Hey, Happy Memorial Day!
Hope you enjoyed the day off and the cookout. I certainly did.
So Memorial Day is an interesting holiday. I don’t think I’ve spent many Memorial Days spending time thinking about past wars or those who died in them, or those who survived them. I’m grateful for my country and those who served, but I confess Memorial Day is looked forward to as a long weekend and perhaps a chance to road trip rather than a day to… well… remember.
Beyond the simple lack of reflection described in the above paragraph, we’ve got a growing ambiguous relationship with our wars lately. On the one hand, there’s tremendous pressure in our culture to unquestioningly honor soldiers. On the personal level, too, most of us have at least one friend or relative who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan. At the same time, many of us in America today aren’t big fans of some of the recent American military operations. We’ve heard news of acts done by American soldiers that don’t always make us proud.
Depending on who you are, what kinds or relationships you have, and what sort of political persuasion persuades you, the voices on one side or the other may sound louder and even drown out the other. But the question is out there–cultural pressure to honor veterans or decry recent wars aside, what’s your real personal relationship with those who have served in America’s wars? That’s the question up for discussion this week.
So–regardless of what you think about the war in Iraq (I’m not really interested in a political discussion this week) – should those of us who have not been in battle take time to honor those who fell in battle? Why or why not? And if we should, how should we? What should the relationship between civilians and veterans be? How do you respond when you meet someone who served in Iraq or Afghanistan? How would you like to respond?
I hope this month’s discussion goes back and forth between real life practical discussion and the more philosophical level. The philosophical question is real: What is the relationship between the civilian and the soldier (living or dead)? Does the civilian “owe” the soldier anything, on an individual level? Does it muddy the waters at all if the civilian disapproves of the war in which the soldier fought?
Obviously the philosophical question has practical implications, and we’re going to be interacting with more and more veterans who are being assimilated into normal civilian life. And I daresay many of us would do well to think about how to interact with this population. We’ll all have different experiences and existing relationships with soldiers, and so I think we’ll benefit from each others’ perspectives on a practical level.
See you Thursday! This will be fun.
P.S. New to this site? Welcome! Comments are reserved for those who have attended Gray’s Theology in person. If you live in the Madison, Wisconsin area, you’d be welcome to join us.