A Future Memorial Day
To Honor The Dead
I long for a memorial day like none I have ever experienced before.
On Sunday evening, Nancy, my wife, and my granddaughter and I attended a Memorial Day service on the shores of the Caloosahatchee River that slowly flows by Fort Myers on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. There was a helicopter fly over, a flag ceremony, a rifle salute and beautiful music. The speakers honored the dead with a recurring theme—they died so we might be free. As the speakers addressed the audience, my thoughts turned to the Revolutionary War, the War Between the States, two World Wars, Korea, the jungles of Vietnam and the streets of cities in Iraq and mountain patrols in Afghanistan.
I fully understand the sentiment, for I joined the Navy and flew combat missions over North Vietnam with the same resolve and vision. I knew I might die, and if I did it would be to preserve the freedom of others. This is what I thought.
I unknowingly was influenced by a culture and consciousness that silently affirms freedom is something to be won; it must be defended and achieved through war—and that young men and women fall in defense of freedom. This is the theme of every Memorial Day.
I long for a Memorial Day when we honor our dead sailors and soldiers by hearing their message from the grave, that after countless wars we will hear the plea of every lost son and daughter. Find a way to live in peace with one another. What better way to honor those who died in combat than to find and to walk the seemingly elusive path of peace.
We consistently think freedom and peace are companions of war. This is the way it has always been, and we think it is the way it will always be. I no longer believe this.
I believe a new consciousness will rise through which we will be free not because of war and the death that naturally accompanies it, but because we found a way to live peacefully with others. This is the greatest form of freedom. This path frees everyone.
During a future Memorial Day service, someone will choose to honor the fallen by heeding their message from beyond, a place without borders and politics.
And so one day, someone will stand up during a Memorial Day service and honor those who have fallen in battle in a new way. Someone will stand at a podium and say, “I say to all those who have fallen in battle, I hear you. I finally understand. Freedom and war are not eternal companions.
“I understand that the honor we are to bestow upon you is not just to remember your death, but to understand that your death is a voice saying to us, ‘Find another way. Find the path of peace. Let our death and flags at half-mast declare, ‘Honor us not be speaking of our death and freedom, but by finding the elusive path of peace.”
It has been proposed in years past that our government have a Department of Peace, a cabinet position that advises the President during times of conflict, and tests the premise that true freedom is not won, but a common destiny of all. The funding for such a department would not be taxes, but voluntary donations, and, we the people, through our donations will indicate how important peace is to us. Imagine a day when there will not only be a Peace Department, but it will be the highest funded area of our government. Can you see it?