This Monday we in the U.S. will be in memory of those who have died for our country; Memorial Day. This holiday may go back as far as ancient Greece, at least the idea of recognizing those who have fallen in service to their countries. As for America, 1866 is the first recognized observance, and 1868 it became an official observance.
What do we remember?
As the years have gone be I have found myself less and less enamored with the concept of killing each other to make a point. My study of the effects of armed conflict clearly suggest their are almost always more effective ways to settle disagreements. We cannot do anything about the wars we have fought, nor the people who have perished in those wars. We can, however, strive to eliminate new members to the memory. I believe this is the greatest way we can honor those who serve and have served in our armed forces.
As a Vietnam veteran myself, the most difficult thing I have ever had to do is face the names on “The Wall” in Washington D.C. Some call this survivors guilt, I see it as a feeling beyond classification. Yet as I stood before those thousands of names, all I could do is ask why. Why did they have to die? Why do we, every decade or so, seem to crave another military conflict? As I look over the cemeteries decorated with American flags in a throw-back to the original name of this day, Decoration Day, all I experience is the memory that well meaning and dedicated people lie beneath those flags. All too often the reason they are there is not some noble cause, but the failure of our leaders to seek one more level of negotiation, one more attempt to remember each and every one of us is made of exactly the same Source.
Learning the lesson
The highest and most noble goal to which we can aspire is peace. This could well be the most important lesson we learn from Memorial Day.