The three day weekend is fast approaching. We will remember our heroes through an avalanche of patriotic commercials and emotional photos. The nation will take a short pause to commemorate our fallen on Memorial Day.
Like most major holidays the media inundates us with ads, short video clips and images. The Memorial Day photographs are meant to stimulate patriotism. They will be moving. They will be clean and pretty, leaving us with good feelings which is somewhat perplexing since they represent a very different reality.
In fairness, most difficult life experiences look better when we’re farther away from them.
I’m grateful I’ve never had to watch someone be struck by a bullet or smell the smoke of smoldering flesh. It’s hard to imagine the photos shown on Memorial Day come even close to depicting the devastation they represent.
I wonder how veterans who’ve lived through the real-life experiences of war think of the polished up images we circulate. The disabled vet who sits at the intersection panhandling in our community probably doesn’t have a Twitter account to give his opinion on the issue. He anesthetizes his mind from memories and we anesthetize ours to him as we pass by – even on Memorial Day.
It’s probably safe to assume the general population can’t identify with him. Besides not understanding the trauma of his combat, he’s certainly not airbrushed enough for our applause. Like many, he’s still attached to the umbilical cord of his pain.
Internal wars are just as hard to understand as physical wars. Inner wars bring their own kind of pain, suffering and even death.
As I sit in my comfortable chair plucking my keyboard in hypothetical thoughts, I am challenged with what I can do. How can I serve the wounded. The broken in our villages need to be fed, listened to and truly honored.
The battle-weary soldiers of internal wars are the poor and the brokenhearted spoken of in Isaiah 61. Many people are held prisoners of war right in our own communities, and they are part of us.
The truth is we all would benefit by standing at attention on Memorial Day. We’re all part of a battle and called to fight in a very real war.
Our identity and dignity are contingent upon truly remembering. By ongoing remembrance and involvement. More than a pause – a lingering that initiates action.
I want to be more than moved this Memorial Day. I want to be enlisted into the causes that move my Heavenly Father. I want to take my place on the battlefield of my own community, so maybe one day I’ll hear my commander say, “This one fought the best she knew how. She lingered long enough to act.”
For today – I linger and humbly ask forgiveness for my own lethargy and preoccupation with myself. I willingly yield these unfocussed eyes to open and see opportunity beyond the polished images of the hour.