Monday, May 30, 2011

memorial day

my faith tradition happens to be one that historically rejected the violence of war and has kept a strong peace stance.  a phrase i heard growing up on days like rememberance day, veterens day, memorial day, or other holidays celebrating military history is the following...  to remember is to work for peace.

for many of you, memorial day means remembering your relatives and friends who served (or serve) in the military, but my own family history owns little of that story.  my great-grandfather's business was blackballed because he was a conscientious objector during world war 1.  during the second world war, my grandfathers gave their time in alternative service because of their convictions.

so for this reason i try and remember heroes of non-violence and peace on memorial day.  people like gandhi, martin luther king jr, desmond tutu, and many others including my friend rob who is currently serving with christian peacemaker teams in the west bank.

you can read all about rob's incredible journey of peace right here.


Petrea Burchard said...

It's an admirable tradition, Ben.

My father served in World War II and of course it changed his life (how could it not?). After the war he pursued his PhD in Sociology, concentrating on religion. His thesis, entitled "Role Conflict in the Military Chaplain," coined the phrase "role conflict." He needed to examine, for himself, how a man of religion could consciously send young soldiers into battle (role conflict).

ben wideman said...

That is an amazing story, Petrea. I would actually like to read his thesis!

Petrea Burchard said...

I'll see if I have a copy. If I don't, my sister will have it in her files. You'd be the perfect person to read and evaluate it now, 60 years or so after he wrote it.

Gina said...

We got some interesting questions and observations from our 4.5 year old, Thomas, this year about Memorial Day after we explained the purpose of the holiday to him.

He wanted to know who, if anyone, in our family had fought and died in wars and whether or not they had chosen to fight. At his age he wants to classify everything in life in terms of good/bad, right/wrong and the concept of war is quite difficult for him - as it should be for all of us, really.

We had a couple of long, very thoughtful conversations with him this weekend about whether or not war is ever justified and how he feels about people, including himself someday, potentially fighting and dying in wars. They are tough conversations to have, but I am glad he is asking questions and thinking for himself. It is good to learn that answers are not always easy.

ben wideman said...

Awesome stuff, Gina - difficult, yes, but so important.