Memorials

On a recent trip to Washington D.C. Ronnie, Allie and I toured the various monuments on the national mall. I had not been there for several years and so had some catching up to do.It is a fascinating tour. The war memorials, in particular, present a huge spectrum of style and emotions–from the introspective Vietnam memorial to the triumphalism of the WWII statues, and the poignancy of the Korean war memorial. Individually each encapsulate the primary memories of that war, and together they demonstrate the complexities of our many feelings about loss and war.memorial day

Memorial day can be a difficult holiday to recognize (I even struggle for the word–celebrate?) it raises many legitimate emotions about war, sacrifice, honor, violence, loss, death and memory. I find a full range of emotions at the annual memorial day parade and ceremony with the Centerport Fire department. (Without even mentioning the feelings of those who just want to get to their picnic.) The speakers at the ceremony have been caring and loving and they have also been angry and resentful. It is like attending a funeral–the mourners react in many different ways.

At the core of Memorial day is the reality of loss and this is something that is unique to each individual situation, yet also universally shared. Our shared loss may also be powerful force to unite communities. I march and pray for the men and women who lost their lives and for the families they left behind. A compassionate respect for their families not only honors their loss, but may join us together as a community bound by grief. And, also like in a funeral, we cannot remain stuck in the past, but the focus needs to turn to the future. May we learn from the pain of the loss of these service members to create a future of lasting peace so that we won’t need to add any more memorials to war on the national mall.

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