Memorial Day Thoughts
May 29, 2011Just before Memorial Day when I was a child, Mother would take us downtown, set up a card table in front of the drugstore where we would sell VFW poppies all morning. Daddy was a veteran and the American Legion was an important organization to my parents. Besides, the American Legion "Hut" was where we had all the receptions and dances of my youth. The American Legion sponsored Girl's State, a week long civics course where we learned about government and Robert's Rules of Order, learnings that have blessed me since that time. This year, as I bought poppies from the VFW, I gave thanks for all those who have served to protect me in this life, especially those of Daddy's era, the Greatest Generation. The Freedom Flights for WWII veterans were a big deal to Roy, Clyde, Mac and others who went to Washington to see the new World War II Memorial constructed in their honor. They told me they were treated like kings. They were proud and I am happy for their honor. As I do every year, I remember Harold Gay. Harold Gay was a high school student when I first knew him as he bagged my groceries at the Winn Dixie in Wilson. He was chatty and friendly and I always enjoyed talking with him. When he was about to graduate, he told me that he had enlisted in the Army. He was both nervous and excited, but his options as a young African American were limited. He knew that he would get an education and learn some skills as an enlisted man. It was the spring of 1968. The last time I saw Harold was at a high school football game that fall. He was in dress uniform and looked fit and well after his basic training and AIT. His next stop was Viet Nam. When I read his obituary in the newspaper, I had such sadness about this loss of life. Was Viet Nam worth Harold's life? And how about the thousands of other lives, all the human potential, creativity, vision, faith, hope and love that was being lost to the world in this long, long war? Is this kind of peace life-giving and lasting? Or is this kind of peace a little like cutting the kudzu from around the yard? 'Cause with that kind of peace, when the yard keeper is not able to cut, the kudzu wins. The peace that is offered in Christ is humility, mercy, grace, and love. It is seeded in the heart of one who loves God and seeks to live the ways of Christ. It may look passive, and in the case of nuclear arms and violence, it is. But this peace would not take the lives of the innocent and it would not be valued around who wins and who loses. In ultimate ways, we all would win. On this Memorial Day, may we remember all the victims of war, those who fought for the right on all sides. May God make our motives pure, and our actions in accordance with God's will that we all live in "hesed," God's peaceable kingdom. May God grant peace to all who fear, all who hope, and all who seek life. Amen.