Wednesday, May 25, 2005

What are we celebrating on Monday?

Memorial Day.

I am sure it is your favorite holiday of the year. The day we head out to National Cemeteries, American Legion Halls and retirement homes to listen to tales of innocence lost and lives cut down in their primes. The day we become grateful we can fight an extended war with no mandatory draft. The day we realize we can spend inordinate amounts of money on that war and still cut taxes.

Ahhhh, it's beginning to look a lot like Memorial Day.

Actually for most of us, it means nothing more than a Monday off from work, the beginning of summer and an excuse to fire up the old grill with friends and cheap beer. Memorial Day means nothing more to most of us (who did not lose a loved one) than a moment of guilt in the morning when we read the front page of the paper (like MLK Day) or watch the news and see the President laying flowers on the tomb of a man who died too soon.

As we prepare for this Memorial Day, please remember those who have died in war. They leave families grieving and expectations unfulfilled. As a believer in the Christian duty to practice the spiritual discipline of nonviolence, I still take time to remember those who have died and those returning to a home that has changed. As the child of a veteran of 2 wars, I have a daily reminder of the men and women who fought and returned. Some of those returning find themselves with no job, no spouse, no parents, no limbs, no support system and no home. It is tragic that these men and women must pay such a price for American security while we pay nothing (besides $.50 more at the pump).

Link to Sojo's Action Alert to Support Returning War vets. You can find out how the present administration and Pentagon are lagging in their actual support and how we can help.

Link to Mark Shield's excellent Memorial Day commentary on how this is the first time in US history that Americans are not asked to sacrifice during a war, except for the soldiers who must make extra sacrifices during this time. It is a needed read for all War and Military supporters along with those against the war, as well as anyone with plans on Memorial Day.

5 comments:

Dave said...

It's a good point, Rick. We need to personalize Memorial Day for it to have the impact it ought to have. I keep a picture of my Uncle Leo in my office. PFC Leo Rice enlisted in the US Army in January of 1942. He was 19. He was shot in the head by a Japanese sniper in the summer of '43. He was defending the Panama Canal. Most people don't even remember that there was fierce fighting between Japan and the US for control of the Canal. Leo never married or had kids. His father died a few years later and his 10 sibs went on with their. His mother died in 1986. Come monday, I am the only person who will mourn him. But mourn him I will. In the picture that is my only link to him he is skinny and sunburned. He is out of uniform, but has his helmet resting on his leg. (Perhaps and indication that sniper fire was common?) He is sprawled out on the butrnt grass and leaning against what I think is a small palm tree. He is petting a tiny white dog. He looks contented, but far from his home in the Carolina lowcountry. He was my father's brother. He is an American hero. No one will mourn him on Monday but me. Perhaps you will share a beer with me in Leo's honor.

Dave said...

I just ran into your dad, who I love, by the way. He says he's a veteran of three wars.

Rick said...

I will lift a glass with you for your uncle. He would be my dad's age.

Most of my friends don't have immediate family that fought in WWII (parents, uncles). It is usually grandparents. My dad is so much older than most friends parents. Was your uncle much older than your dad?
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I usually say 2, because he got out before Vietnam became full blown. That way I can act like I am not trying to brag about my dad, just give info. Even though I think it is crazy that he is vet of 3. There are a few of them, but mostly not enlisted guys with little more than 20 years service.

Dave said...

Leo was born in '22, and was the firstborn of 11 children. My dad was the 11th; born in '37.

DLW said...

Memorial day has always been the holiday that made it so everyone was away up north at their cabins hunting/fishing on my birthday.

check out my birthday post over at the Anti-Manicheist.
dlw