Monday, May 30, 2011

War is Hell

Imaginary playlist:

"The Scarlet Tide" sung by Alison Krauss

"You Will Be My Ain True Love" sung by Alison Krauss

from T. Bone Burnett's soundtrack to Cold Mountain

Yesterday's reflection in church reminded me that Memorial Day had its origins in Decoration Day, a day set aside for remembrance of the dead after the Civil War, and that William Tecumseh Sherman was the General who said, "War is hell."

Wikipedia reminds me that the day was created and first celebrated by black Americans, particularly former slaves honoring the dead Union soldiers.

After World War I, this day of remembrance in the United States began to extend to all Americans lost in war, and gradually it became a day to decorate the graves and remember all our dead.

Susan Ryder's reflection begins with "The Young Dead Soldiers," a poem by Archibald MacLeish, who was himself a veteran and also served the United States as Librarian of Congress and in the Secretary of State's office. Giving voice to the young dead soldiers, he says, "We leave you our deaths. Give them meaning."

Please read Susan's thoughtful piece, and be sure to click and read the article by Kevin Cullen, called "The fatal touch of war," which makes you keep asking whether particular military and civilian deaths during wartime had meaning or were for nothing. It clearly demonstrates that war is hell.

And I continue to be struck by what General Sherman said about the impulse to war: "Suppress it!"

I woke this morning to bright sunshine and the joy that family will gather today for this Memorial Day holiday, but also with the phrase "lost to me" floating in my consciousness like the ethereal voice of Alison Krauss.

I thank our veterans, whether they served in a "good" war or not. I remember the dead, particularly those lost to me.


Collagemama said...

I do like the "You might also like" function! Today it led me to Jeremy Rifkin and the RSA animation of "The Empathic Civilization". My recent visit to the WWII Memorial in D.C. was a powerful early Memorial Day experience.

Hannah Stephenson said...

Good reminders about remembrance.