Memorial Day Thoughts

Conceptual image of waving American flag and light beam with abstract lights over blue background

The Memorial Day holiday launches us into summer. With it comes all the anticipations of warm weather, vacations, cook-outs and more social gatherings for friends and families. This year we also are anticipating the opening up of our country from the restrictions of COVID-19.  What a relief! 

Yet the true remembrances of this holiday are about all those who gave their lives in the service of our country. We honor their service; we empathize and sympathize with their family members who have experienced such loss and we take moments to appreciate their sacrifice through the events of Memorial Day.

I so appreciate our veterans and all they have given so that we can appreciate living in our democracy. It is a reminder that our democracy is a true privilege. It is also a reminder of the role a democracy should play in working towards our impact in the world. It would be so much better to live in a world where we do not have to send troops all over being exposed to such risk to their lives.

Recently it feels to me like we have lost the drive for a peaceful democracy. As I have said many times peace comes because leaders and individuals are peacemakers. When I think of that opportunity I think of words like listening, compromise, unity, sacrifice, navigation and coming to a place of resolve of some of the complex problems we face as a nation, a community and as family members.  Peace is an admirable goal, but it will not be achieved without an active and intentional commitment to create an environment around us where peace is a desired goal and outcome.

Tahoma National Cemetery in Washington State on Memorial Day

Perhaps we should be asking more of our leaders to be peacemakers. Rather than finding what is wrong with each other and launching into criticism. Perhaps we should ask our leaders to emulate a peacefulness that will not put our people and our troops in jeopardy.

We also need to be modeling peace in how we conduct our businesses, politics and care for those in need. We are seeing increased numbers of individuals resolve their struggles with violence witnessed in the exponentially growing number of shootings. This is frightening and creates intense anxiety among our citizens. If we are going to be at peace globally, we should be modeling the same in our own democracy as we celebrate the freedoms that have come at such great costs.

Perhaps one thing we can all do this Memorial Day is to renew our commitment to peace.  Rather than choosing to criticize each other and emphasize our differences we should be working to find ways we can create peace in our schools, our churches, our communities, in our families and in our nation.

I can’t think of a better way to honor those who have fought for peace in America than by enjoying the gift of democracy and protecting each other through the pursuit of unifying peace. Our freedom to live in peace has come at a high price so let’s truly value the sacrifices made as we support each other!

Happy Memorial Day!

Gerry Vassar


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