Memorial Day started 3 years after the end of the Civil War, in the Northern States, as a day to decorate the graves of those who had died in that most brutal war.
Three years had past, and in every village and hamlet, ever city and town, there were families that had been broken and kids left fatherless. General Logan, leader of a group for Northern Civil War Veterans knew that part of moving forward in health and in peace was to acknowledge the loss of life--to remember the dead. Memorial Day was a day of remembrance and prayer.
What were the prayers of the people on Memorial Day?
I hope that there were prayers for the dead. I hope that there were prayers asking God to comfort the children and spouses and Moms and Dads who had lost their loved ones.
I hope they prayed for the families throughout the North and South forever altered by the brutality of war.
I hope, too, that there were prayers for peace and for permanent resolution to conflicts and great divides.
Finally, I hope they prayed that God would intervene in the lives of human society and eradicate the greed (often propped up by sick theology/ideology) that is so often the driver of war.
The greed that led new Americans to eradicate native peoples,
the greed that created the slave trade,
the greed that drove the cotton industry,
the greed that led to stealing and plundering natural resources…
all these were precursors to the Civil War.
Without greed there is no war.
I hope that at least some of the prayers prayed in towns and hamlets were prayers of confession, and prayers committing to a future that was about the common good.
May our Memorial Day celebrations be honest celebrations. May this be a day of prayer and reflection. May this be a day for politicians, and parents, and students and businesspeople and artisans and all of us to apologize for the part we play in creating the theater for war—a stage that soldiers have to enter, and die upon, because of the greed that drives our form of economy and creates our unstable world.
May we commit, today, to work for a world of peace—a world where soldiers never have to fight, and die, again.
The Last Are First