Today at 3pm, many people will observe a minute of silence amidst the summer fun and home improvement project festivities.
The National Moment of Remembrance Act was passed by Congress in 2000 as a way to honor those who died, and as a result of the desire of many people to see Memorial Day as a sad and profound remembrance of the terrible consequences of war, rather than a celebration of the start of summer.
At 3pm, taps will play, train whistles will blow and people across the country will stop, pray, contemplate or just breathe.
While we thank the veterans, and those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom, it is helpful to remember that we are not only celebrating traditional heroes today;we are being called on to remember the terrified young men who were conscripted into unwinnable or horrific wars and killed as a result of their unwillingness to break the law or their dutiful adherence to the sacred rules of service.
We can remember the dads, moms, brothers, children, sisters, husbands and wives who volunteered to serve under the pressure of poverty . We can also remember the people who died running away – who failed to be perfect and were killed, maybe feeling like cowards, maybe failing to help or even hurting their brothers and sisters in service. We can remember soldiers to whom no one paid respects-who died alone with no loved ones back home to grieve them, or those who were never identified.
Many people source the start of memorial day as a day in which African-American former slaves decorated the graves of their fallen friends. It was a day to finally recognize their contributions to our country.
At 3pm, let’s imagine what if might have felt like to die on a battlefield or in a truck or a plane or a hospital. Sometimes the label of hero (or coward) can separate us from each other, putting these brave souls up on a pedestal that we can never reach.
This is dangerous to world peace, as a death becomes an honor to celebrate, rather than a heartbreaking tragedy that is due to our world-wide inability to find a better way to solve conflicts. I do not know this better way, some wars do seem necessary, and I am thankful for my hard-won-by-others freedom. I mean no dishonor by this post. I have not lost someone to war, or fought in any of our battles. I just want to remember to say that I am sorry as often as I say “thank you” to the famlies and friends of the men, women and children who have died at war.
One minute of silence.
Imagine what a soldier in the middle of a war zone would give for that.
Thank you for reading, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service.
I will be thinking of you at 3pm and always, and praying for peace to finally take its rightful place as the top priority in our world.