In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, now on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead, Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
the Torch; be your to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
in Flanders fields.
Memorial Day; Decoration Day: A day of remembering this who have gone before us and paid the price.
To pay the price is the demand for growth and transformation. In our world today, as throughout the centuries, wars have been fought; men, women and children have suffered and died. I remember WWII when our entire culture seemed to be directly involved with Victory Gardens, Ration Stamps, the Stars in the windows and everyone seemed to have a stake – a contribution to make. I remember serving my first funeral; the procession of the casket from the train to the front room of my grandparents home and the wake that lasted all night. Following the Funeral Mass, all proceeded to the Cemetery for the burial. Following the prayers over the burial site, the full military funeral made itself known with the rifle volleys and the taps – the echo taps. Joe was killed in Normandy, as a tank commander, out in front searching for land-mines when he was shot; working for the common good – for his buddies, his family and for freedom for millions.
Once upon a time, it was believed that WWI was the war to end all wars. Tribes, nations and empires have been at war for centuries – for land, for food, for domination and power, for wealth or for whatever excuse was convenient at the time. Soldiers have died, as have those people who just happened to be in the way of those fighting. Since WWII, we have been involved in wars in Central and South America, Asia, Africa and throughout the world. Millions of people have been killed, displaced or suffered in so many ways. Often some are fighting for freedom, while others fight for domination and power. In the process, everyone suffers; everyone loses something.
At the same time, as the story of the Crucifixion teaches us; there is a price for everything under heaven. The question always – are we willing to pay the price, and if so, what is it that we are attempting to achieve? Often, corporations or the powerful see war as a increase their own power – as it has been for centuries. Emperors and Kings; Pharaohs, Popes and Presidents have looked for ways to both acquire and then to maintain power at the cost of the lives of others. They tell stories, extolling the heroism and creating the myths to be venerated and emulated. They look for obedience – at times assuming that the people were created to serve them, that they and the state were one, and forgetting their call to serve all of the people, not just the few.
Today, we remember those who have died on the battlefield; we remember those who survived the battlefields, but with wounds to the body, but just as importantly who were wounded psychologically or spiritually and cary these hidden wounds within them for the rest of their lives. Veterans of the wars in the Middle-East suffer from PTSD at an alarming rate and are homeless, without the ability to work and who are committing suicide at an alarming rate. They are forgotten or ignored. Our Veterans Administration is understaffed, underfunded, and over extended. We are fed blatant lies about the reasons for sending more and more troops into battle, while we find excuses to create more enemies to be afraid of. We seem at times to be enraptured by war; movies, novels and rituals have created the myths that we tend to worship.
It might be interesting sometime, to begin to put our resources and energy; our people to building a world of peace. How do we build bridges instead of walls. We live in a world that is consistently moving closer together as our human population expands, worldwide communication is instantaneous, and we have the necessary resources to build a world in which we can all live together. Environmental change is a reality and clean water and air as well as arable land is becoming more polluted daily. How do we as a world population begin to pool our ideas on how to leave to our descendants a world that is livable and sharable by all. We are like Cain and Able; fighting and destroying while forgetting our common heritage as part of the Earth coming to be – we are all children of the. One God. How can we learn to respect one another in our diversity and oneness alike? Rather than building more and more dangerous weapons, it seems that it might be more advantageous to build ways to are life giving and nourishing to all – not just the few.
Maybe, it would be good to remember those who have given their lives for all; including Jesus who died for all – not just the few. This miracle was a miracle of love coming into the world as a gift, reminding us to become gift for one another. To remember the Christ on the Cross, put to death because he dared to challenge those in positions of power and were threatened by real freedom. What price are we willing to pay and for what?
Prayers and Best Wishes only go so far. Action is needed. If we really want to honor those who have paid the price in so many ways, then we are called to
Feed the hungry
Give water to the thirsty
Heal the sick and wounded
Welcome the stranger
Clothe the naked
Visit those in hospitals and in jail
To heal the earth, the oceans and the air – to be busy, paying the price to bring life to a broken world.
To recognize our common humanity in this complex and changing world and to understand that we are connected, we need one another. To Life:
Happy Memorial Day: Happy Armistice Day: Happy Decoration Day to one and all.