Thoughts About Memorial Day (To Honor Those Who Have Died, We Must Be the Peace We want to See in the World)

Practically every city, town and village across the nation has at leastone memorial to fallen soldiers. Many have many more than one. In the South, the deaths most honored are from the Civil War. This may hold true in the North as well. I respect and honor those who fell in battle as well as the veterans who survived war, but whom time has taken from us. It’s good to have obelisks and statues to remind us that people die
in war, while acting on behalf of the United States.

Those who sacrifice and lose the most have the least to gain from war, and those who benefit the most almost always sacrifice and lose nothing. No matter my beliefs about the morality of war, the service members who died lost their lives for something bigger than themselves — whether they became soldiers to take care of their families or protect their
buddies, or because they were drafted or believed in their country and the mission. We must honor that.

Spending the whole day eating and shopping is a desecration and honoring with monuments and words is not enough. To truly honor fallen soldiers requires self-reflection, questions and action. We must reflect on our part in their deaths. Are we allowing the blood of soldiers and civilians to be spilled in war because we are not willing to do the hard work of peace making? Hard work that may mean we must change our lifestyles, consume less and learn more about the world around us. Are
we prepared to take any responsibility for our nation’s relationships with other countries? Are we willing to question our government’s foreign policies and demand a change from domination to collaboration? Are we willing to take action to change ourselves so that our personal behavior and attitude reflects peace making rather than acceptance of war?

I believe the best way to honor those who have died in war, both combatants and civilians, is to work to abolish war. We must end the killing and suffering caused by war. This sounds idealistic because it is.

Idealism is one if the traits of humanity that sets us apart from the beast of nature. Striving for a higher purpose and looking to a higher calling brings out the best in us. If we truly want to honor those who died we must step up in an effort to ensure their death is not simply because we are too scared and selfish to take up the challenge to be better people.

This Memorial Day, after you eat, catch a sale, honor the dead at a memorial or leave flowers for a fallen solider; please take some time to reflect on what you can do to make the world more peaceful at home and abroad. Then go out and be the peace you want to see in the world.

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About Michael T. McPhearson

Currently Michael is executive director of Veterans For Peace and co-chair of the Don't Shoot Coalition, A Saint Louis based coalition that formed in the aftermath of Michael Brown's police killing death in Ferguson, MO. From August 2010 to September 2013, Michael worked as the National Coordinator with United For Peace and Justice. He is a former board member of Veterans For Peace and as well as Executive Director from 2005 to 2010. He works closely with the Newark based People’s Organization for Progress and the Saint Louis centered Organization for Black Struggle. Michel also publishes the expressing his views on war and peace, politics, human rights, race and other things. Michael also launched website as an effort to change the discourse and ignite a new conversation about Dr. Martin Luther King’s message and what it means to live in just and peaceful communities.