Monday, May 28, 2012

Thoughts on Memorial Day

Arlington Cemetery & Wasnington Monument
Today in the United States we are observing Memorial Day, a day to remember the soldiers and sailors who have fallen in the line of duty during wars and other military actions.  These men and women who served our country deserve to be remembered for their sacrifices.

We must also remember what war means on a global scale.  While we in the US see the decorated men and women returning from overseas and mourn over the flag-draped coffins and precisely laid-out tombstones of those who don't return, we don't experience what war means to the rest of the world.

For most of the rest of the world, war means more than the possibility of grown sons and daughters not returning home.  For many in overseas conflicts, it means loosing their homes altogether, being displaced into refugee camps, often for the rest of their lives.  It can mean a destruction of infrastructure that interferes with the ability to have electricity, clean drinking water, or even food.  It can mean having children kidnapped and forced into military service.  It can mean becoming, or witnessing a child become, what is called "collateral damage" which occurs when military weapons miss their target and hit civilians.  This happens more than we realize.  War can mean children surviving the horrors of war but having missing limbs or disfigured faces and/or bodies or experiencing PTSD.  Or, for women, it often means the certainty of being the victim of brutal gang rape (which is used as a weapon of war). 

Although this day was created to honor the men and women who died while serving in the US armed forces, it is often a time when we glorify war.  Rather, as we consider the global consequences of war, we should strive to identify ways of nonviolent conflict resolution and then work to ensure those solutions are put into action.

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