Memorial Day is a holiday that is filled with contradiction for me. I have an appreciation of those who have died in wars defending our country. I honor the farmers and merchants of the American Revolution who had adopted this land and were willing to stand up to the professional soldiers of King George to establish a country that was no more than a few words on a piece of parchment that many of them couldn’t even read. I honor my family members who left their families and work to fight World War II. They were boys when they left and men when they returned. They were men who carried the scars of those battles, inside and out, for the rest of their lives.
But I also honor my Grandaddy Campbell, who was a conscientious objector in World War I. He and others like him cooked for the soldiers, but refused to take up arms against the enemy. What if all soldiers, in all times, did that? What if we had a day to celebrate those who stood for peace? What if our nation’s capital was full of memorials and monuments of peacemakers rather than of war heroes?
The dilemma is this: How do we honor our military, both alive and dead, without honoring, and thus perpetuating, the evil that is war? I know the arguments of the “just war” but where is the argument for “just peace?” Today, as we remember our war dead, please give some thought to a day when we can also honor those who stand for peace.