Imagine a very special building
– vast with columns and arches and carved friezes – an enormous empty space.
This space is filled with life-size cardboard figures of soldiers, our soldiers,
lined up rank on rank. On the front side of each cardboard figure is the
soldier’s likeness when s/he went to war, on the reverse, their likenesses when
they came back. There is also a life-size cardboard figure of every soldier who
did not come back and on the reverse, a tribute of some kind.
We could pay money and wander through this hall of soldiers and we
could look at all the faces of those to whom we owe our national stability and
perhaps our very lives. These soldiers are mostly unknown to us. We have never
looked at their unique faces. It might take us a number of visits to look on
the faces of a smallish portion of the soldiers who fought for our nation, but
I bet we would run through the gamut of emotions as we wandered through those
ranks, as we read the names, as we looked at the faces. I bet it would
eventually become almost a religious experience, an exercise in recognizing the
value of human life, a reminder to try every solution possible short of war
before we send our fellow Americans off again.
The exhibit would be kind of like those ceramic soldiers they
discovered (uncovered) in China except more personal and less permanent.
Do we have a building large enough? How many visits would we have to
make to see every soldier? Too many, I am thinking. I don’t know the numbers
and I don’t want to do that sad math.
Perhaps this is a bit of a two-dimensional monument and much too large
to be personal enough. Perhaps we could put all our soldiers pictures on a web
site where they would be available every minute and we could visit a few each
I guess what we really want is to thank all of our soldiers who took part
in all of America’s wars, military actions, and skirmishes for their service to
our nation and to those of us who would make terrible soldiers. If the war cost
you your life we hope you can rest in peace. We are sorry for the sacrifices
your families had to make.
This is the day dedicated to our American soldiers, our day to
remember you, whether living or not. I am thinking that most of us remember you
much more often than just this one day. However, this is Memorial Day and we
dedicate this day to the armed forces of America.
By Nancy Brisson
My spirea bushes are now 3 years old. I have a picture that
shows them blooming when they were first planted and I have a picture from year
1, after one year in the ground. In the time between year one and their 2nd
birthday, there was a late freeze that nipped all the buds and the spirea never
bloomed. Last year I added two more spirea bushes and this year, in spite of
another late freeze, they finally bloomed.
I just love the way they always look like fireworks and how
appropriate it is that they bloom to celebrate Memorial Day, when we remember
our brave soldiers who died and the families who mourn them. Without these
soldiers my spirea might not have importance for anyone; we might have to be worried about our national security instead. But beauty is one of the
good parts of being alive and we should also always celebrate the good parts of
being alive, Because our soldiers keep us safe, we and their families
can live satisfying and peaceful lives.
The blooming of my
spirea plants is the doorway into summer, which we are told may be buggy, wet and stormy.
But I bet that people will work around these things to enjoy a picnic or two, make
a visit to a summer home if they have one, indulge in a camping trip if they
don’t, take some great walks or hikes, and maybe embark on a boat ride and or dive
in for a swim in a lovely lake or other body of water.
We can chart human history by our wars. Every nation has needed soldiers. Every empire has needed soldiers. Even minor chieftains have needed soldiers. Soldiers enforce power. Without the threat that the warriors represent, the next ambitious figure will change a society’s destiny in a drumbeat. So for centuries the world has used its warriors and sometimes celebrated them and sometimes ignored them and has learned that if you ignore your warriors you lose the respect of your society and your power will be in jeopardy. Societies must thank their soldiers and honor their families and it should be their honor to do so. In times like these when armies are large and finances are tight it is difficult to treat warriors and their families as well as we should. Societies have often postponed rewards to soldiers until more affluent conditions prevailed. Fortunately there are those who remind society to show appreciation for soldiers with things like parades and ceremonies and awards, but also in more tangible ways with things like housing and education and medical care and jobs. This is our Memorial Day, set aside to remember our fallen soldiers and thank our living soldiers for defending our nation and our way of life. Hopefully we will not begrudge them the more tangible rewards they were promised and which they deserve.
Meanwhile we all still yearn for a day when history will no longer be measured in wars. We continue to strive to find a way to organize our societies so that peace will bind us all together and war will become obsolete. Realistically, we can’t imagine how this will ever be possible.
FREEDOM – Tom Zart
In their new uniforms,
The young march off
Not knowing who shall return.
With a proud devotion,
They brandish their flag
Leaving loved ones to wonder and yearn.
May we all be buried
By all of our children
Is an ancient tribal prayer.
They’re so easy to lose
But so hard to forget;
Such a burden for a parent to bear.
Oh, the taste of victory
Shall soon be forgotten;
But, never that which was lost.
For those rows of white headstones
In peaceful green fields,
Make it easy to tally the cost.
America has survived all attempts to destroy
Knowing the cruelty of war,
And, we who remain
Must help keep her free
For those who can march no more!