Since 1868, a day has been set aside to remember all those who died in American wars. Monday, May 30, 2022 is this year's date. My memory of Memorial Day is largely around celebrating the beginning of Summer, parties with hot dogs and watermelon, pools opening. I have to go back to my childhood to really remember Memorial Day.
Mother would take my sister and me, and a card table downtown to the sidewalk in front of the local drug store. She would set up the table, then bring out a tray filled will little red paper poppies on wire stems. We would array the poppies on the table, along with brochures from the American Legion, and commence to selling.
We knew why we did it. Daddy was a graduate of VMI, Class of 1938. When he graduated as a Second Lieutenant, he was assigned to a Georgia National Guard Unit. The story goes, that after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Daddy's unit was called up to storm the beaches of Normandy in D-Day. Daddy was not with his platoon in that battle. He was pulled from the ranks at Fort Dix because of a heart murmur. Casualties in his platoon were over 100%, so the story goes. I sold poppies for all those men.
War. What is war good for? Absolutely nothing. The lines fill my thought.... '"In Flanders Fields the poppies grow, between the crosses row on row."
And other lines from Peter, Paul and Mary, "Where have all the young men gone... gone to graveyards everyone. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?"
There was a story on CNN this morning about a young man, a former US soldier, who has joined the fight in Ukraine. He brought up something that I have thought about recently. He said that the war in Ukraine is unambiguous... the enemy has a face and a name. Vladimir Putin. The United States has spent a lot of money and lost a lot of lives fighting ambiguous enemies. From Viet Nam to Afghanistan, the enemy was not only ambiguous, it was also elusive. Shadow boxing while our young people, our trained and brilliant soldiers left their families and travelled to far-away places to fight and to die because they love America and wanted to preserve our Republic. The Cong. The Taliban. Faceless unidentifiable enemy. So many lives were lost. When will we ever learn?
The War in Ukraine is the tip of the spear in the assault on western democracies. Ukraine is not the final target. The entire western alliance is the target. We are beginning to see the faces beyond Putin. Viktor Orban in Hungary. He named another one in the United States, Tucker Carlson. From the outside and from the inside, forces are mounting on this Memorial Day, to destroy democracy. Democracy is what was fought for by all the soldiers who died defending this country since 1868.
Yes, there are hot dogs and chips and ice cream sandwiches that will br part of our Memorial Day celebration. There will be fireworks and sparklers. The American Experiment has been worth fighting for in words and swords for nearly 400 years. I pray we will not lose it in the cesspool of lies and depravity that swirl around us.
Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader and hosts the website: avirtualchurch.com. She welcomes comments at email@example.com.