I've spent more years of my life having to work on Memorial Day than having time off. Long ago, back in South Carolina, the community colleges had class as usual on that day, in part because it was summer time and there weren't many days we could have off. But also in part, in South Carolina, Memorial Day was often not celebrated because it started out life as a holiday to honor the Union dead.
I realize that some of you will be saying, "Union dead? The Civil War? That war that happened over 100 years ago?"
Oh, yes. For some folks, that war isn't really over. They celebrate Confederate Memorial Day.
And in terms of state and federal holidays, my community college employers were a bit stingy. We didn't get Presidents' Day off either.
So, it was a joy to move down here and to have the day off. But soon, enough, it felt a bit empty.
I've spent all of my life before moving down here living in places that had a military base in the community--sometimes two or three. Memorial Day has a different flavor in places with a military presence.
Today, I'd like to be at a national monument, listening to one of the service bands perform. Or maybe I'd rather be in a contemplative spot, saying a thank you. Or maybe something more festive. I miss the small town parades; I know that my college town of Newberry, South Carolina will be celebrating in ways that remind me of the 1950's. Now, I no longer know the stories of my neighbors. I don't know whose great great grandfather/uncle served in which ways.
Now I live in a place that feels more like a future U.S., where English isn't the dominant language, where there are more recent arrivals than people with ancestors buried in the soil. Most days, I'm cool with this, and invigorated by it. Today, I'm realizing what we're missing.
So, on this day which has become for so many of us just an excuse to have a barbecue, let us pause to reflect and remember. If we're safe right now, let us say a prayer of gratitude. Let us remember that we've still got lots of military people serving in dangerous places.
Let us remember how often the world zooms into war. Let us pray to be preserved from those horrors.
Here's a prayer I wrote for Memorial Day:
God of comfort, on this Memorial Day, we remember those souls whom we have lost to war. We pray for those who mourn. We pray for military members who have died and been forgotten. We pray for all those sites where human blood has soaked the soil. God of Peace, on this Memorial Day, please renew in us the determination to be peacemakers. On this Memorial Day,we offer a prayer of hope that military people across the world will find themselves with no warmaking jobs to do. We offer our pleading prayers that you would plant in our leaders the seeds that will sprout into saplings of peace.
feeling the feelings…
1 year ago