Memorial Day originally was called Decoration Day – a Day to remember the Union soldiers who had died in the Civil War by strewing flowers on their graves. Later it became a day to remember all our country’s war dead. However, in more recent practice it’s bechttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqba0IUdiBkome primarily a weekend to celebrate the start of the vacation season.
We decided that this year, St. Paul’s will celebrate the holiday by focusing on the original purpose of remembering the fallen. We’ve expanded that to include not only those who died but also those who suffered injuries to body and soul, injuries that prevented them from returning to the life they had left behind. For this essay I’ll expand further to include all the war dead and war damaged.
By the time of the Civil War killing technology had advanced enough to produce great battlefield carnage. The victims were mainly young men. World War I saw the dawn of massive – and essentially futile – battles involving new technologies such as large artillery, tanks, poison gas. The death toll was so high that some prewar social customs had to be modified so they could be continued after the war in spite of the shortage of young men.
Music to cry by: Two songs by Eric Bogle, a Scot transplanted to Australia. Both are about WW I but the themes are universal. Green Fields of France mourns those who died while The Band Played Waltzing Matilda mourns those who came back broken.
By World War II the demographics of the victims changed dramatically. The advent of tactics designed to induce terror – the London Blitz, the firestorm bombings of Dresden, Tokyo, etc, then Hiroshima, Nagasaki, mostly killed civilians. Today’s ever expanding smaller scale wars continue to reduce ancient and modern cities to rubble. The primary direct and indirect casualties are women, children, and other noncombatants.
Therefore, on this, and on following Memorial Days, let’s remember, honor,and mourn all of God’s children who were killed or had their lives destroyed by war. All were God’s children!
Then let’s pray that enough of us work to bring God’s Kingdom of love, compassion, reconciliation – peace – to our only world before it’s too late! Both scripture and real world experience tells us that you can’t fight darkness with more darkness, violence with more violence, hate with more hate. Your only weapon is God’s love – the love that Jesus embodied. War is not the answer!