Memorial Day is a national federal holiday honoring the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces . The holiday was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in that terrible conflict. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end. People visit cemeteries and memorials to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.
While it is particularly an American holiday, it reminds the world to pause and count the cost in human lives lost in military conflicts. The world should so remember.
Consider the loss.
Death comes in many forms. Some are social; some are political; some kill the body; some kill the soul. Iran still subjects children to the death penalty, including hangings from cranes. North Korea continues to maintain vast gulags for their political prisoners, including the descendants and relatives of the accused. Forced marriages are practiced for the purpose of breeding slaves. Russia has enacted homophobic legislation that criminalizes the social situation of gay, lesbian, and “non-traditional” relationships. Terrorist organizations abound.
Hezbollah remains one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists organizations, operating from bases in Lebanon. Currently, Hezbollah is now fighting in Syria’s civil war, supporting and battling for President Bashar Assad. The war has taken over a 100,000 lives of the citizenry. This Shia Muslim organization was created in the 1980’s with financial and military support from Iran. The goals of this organization are the destruction of Israel and the undermining of Western interests. Nothing has changed on that front.
Led by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah who was a devout follower of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Nasrallah’s organization has been responsible for more American deaths than any other terror group except Al-Qaeda. A 1983 truck bombing of a US Marine barracks killed 241 servicemen. Both Iran and Syria are responsible for providing Hezbollah with an arsenal of more that 60,000 missiles and rockets. The list goes on and on.
Killing has become an international pastime. People die simply because of their political persuasion. Children in countries like Syria grow up knowing nothing but a way of life that includes constant bombing, shelling, and violent death of relatives. The reality of what may happen with future generations becomes far beyond frightening.
On this Memorial Day let us recall much more than a trip to the beach and the beginning of summer. Let us not only remember those who have died but the value of their lives – of all lives. Perhaps, we can pray a simple prayer to attempt to protect life and bring strife to an end.