I was leaving a church when I turned on my car radio. Garrison Keillor and a female angel voice were singing the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” in two part harmony.
My mind exploded to a vision of a soldier dragging his wounded brother out of harm’s way while under fire.
Then came John John saluting the caisson, rolling green hills dotted endlessly with the stark white faces of courage waiting through eternity for a truth that will lay their souls to rest.
My heart trudged a muddy trench in cold rain. A wayward boot stood full of water. I passed a dazed corporal, blood dripping from his ear.
A mass of maimed, dismembered corpses of blue, gray and darkening red rotted in the noonday sun of a southern field
The drummer boy ducked as shots whistled in his curly red hair. Crimson tunics marched doggedly into a maw of blistering shot that knows no prejudice, brooks no dissent.
“My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord …”
And I wept. I wept for the fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters who lie beneath the earth of our discontent.
I cannot help but wonder if we have betrayed them. We stand at their graves and hold them in our hearts yet we live as if our hate were all that mattered.
Would they have us fight at every turn? Would the dead send their children to the war that stole their lives?
So I said the prayer that has rang in my heart since I was a small boy.
Help us Lord to honor them … all those lives sacrificed on the altar of freedom. Help us Lord to feed the wolf of tolerance and grace rather than hate so that their lives will not be wasted. Help us Lord to wage peace not war that our flesh might know a future that only our hearts can imagine.
On this Memorial Day 2014 let us remember … true courage is to encourage the love of all mankind. Yes we must always be prepared for the wolf that will not listen but we do not honor the dead by becoming that wolf.