I agreed to journey with my wife, JoAnne, to Los Angeles to retrieve my daughter and her boyfriend at LAX on Monday as they return from their three month excursion across Europe. We’ll drive down Sunday afternoon and drive back Tuesday, making this one of the few Memorial Days I’ve missed participating in the Memorial Day Observance at Veteran’s Park. I plan to DVR the PBS Memorial Day On The Mall broadcast on Sunday evening and will watch that at a later time.
But I’ll carry with me more recent “war wounds” from the devastating death of five victims of war on March 9th of this year at The Pathway Home in Yountville, and the children whose lost lives on school campuses this year outnumber the military deceased this year on all foreign soil. I put a high priority on observing Memorial Day every year, as I was one who escaped serving in the Vietnam War. My II-S deferment to attend school got me off the hook from serving but not from honoring. And, yet, with each year, I become more discouraged about the actual and potential likelihood that the US will send even more of our children to fight wars on foreign soil and terrorism here at home.
I recently ran across these words penned by some of our young people ten years ago (which makes them eligible to be serving in the military today). Hear their plea entitled Young People’s Statement on War and Peace:
We are the young people of The United Methodist Church. We hear God’s clear call to be instruments of peace in all corners of the world. We are among those sent to the front lines of every war, by every nation and organization that chooses to engage in war. We are among those who pay the price of military action at the expense of our education, our health care, and our security. We are among those most affected by the insidiousness of war:
- damage to our bodies
- damage to our psyches
- damage to our communities
- damage to our spirits
and yet, we are among those with the least representation in decision-making bodies around the world. We strongly support our brothers and sisters who so bravely stand up for our protection, while strongly rejecting the policies that unnecessarily risk their lives and rob them of their youth. We strongly affirm The United Methodist Church’s stance on war and peace, as stated in The Social Principles,¶165C. We empower all young people around the world to actively work for peace within their churches, their communities, and our world. We are the young people of The United Methodist Church. We affirm God’s clear call to be instruments of peace in all corners of the world.
I’ve become increasingly sad that we’ve disappointed yet another generation of young people as, even with such a heartfelt plea ten years ago, we move to increase our military budget for armaments without being able to afford the enormous cost of caring for those who return home with damaged bodies, psyches, and spirits, consequently damaging our communities.
What will you be doing on this Memorial Day? Will you pause to participate in one of the many observances around our nation? Will you pause to say a prayer remembering those who have lost their lives in the fight, abroad and at home, all unwittingly, in the service of our protection, safety and freedom? Will you pause to say a prayer that the day will soon come when we will cease to ask our young people to serve in harm’s way risking their potential death?
As a congregation, our Church Council this past Monday, May 21st, affirmed a statement agreed upon by those nearly 30 church members participating in the Growing Young one-day workshop – to prioritize young people and families everywhere. However we engage in spending Memorial Day this coming Monday, will we remember, value and act on that pledge?
What will you be doing on this Memorial Day?