(written on Memorial day, 2014)
They called it "decoration day" -- the women of our war-torn land who, even as the battles continued for yet another spring, went out and cleaned off the winter's debris from the graves
of the fallen near them and remembered them with some blossoms or bits of bright cloth.
Many were widowed by this horrible war, called, without intentional irony, "civil" by the northern combatants and, more pragmatically, "between the states" by the southern.
Many were widowed, many had lost sons, brothers, fathers... in some communities, north and south, a whole generation of "spinsters" visited the graves for decades, on what became "Memorial Day", to quietly grieve what might-have-been.
Often the lost and fallen were truly lost to those who'd known them best, they been laid in unmarked or mass or far-distant graves, or sunk beneath the waves or the fields of battle, to be buried and marked only by God.
So, women, southern and northern, east and west, started decorating the graves of the soldiers that were buried near them. For some, this was still a "partisan" activity, but for most, it was not, and the graves of all the fallen were "decorated" to commemorate the sacrifice they made and the grief and loss of some other mother, wife, daughter, sister or lover in some other place.
This is a wonderful thing to do, and redeems, at least a little bit, some of the incredibly high price of our nation's wars.
It is a sacred thing when a person steps forward to place him or herself in harm's way to protect others. Leaders or rulers who use this sacred thing in the service of tyranny or other unjust causes by convincing or coercing their people into unjust war are going to be judged especially harshly, I believe, but those who've fought honorably deserve commemoration, by all persons of honorable character, regardless of the cause they fought for.
This memorial day, stop worrying about causes and rights and wrongs, and reject those who would stand over the graves of the fallen and make a campaign speech for anything other than the values of duty, honor, courage, and sacrifice.
No Greater love exists than that of the one who has laid down his life for a friend or friends, unless it is that of he who does so for people he does not even know, or for generations yet unborn.
I pray you've enough love in your life to spend a least a little of this "long weekend" thinking about those that have done that, and about the one who'se done it "once and for all" for the eternal salvation of all who will accept him. (see Hebrews 7:27; 10:10)