Today, I read "Happy Memorial Day" messages (which I find strange) along with many more words of sincere gratitude and thanks to our American men, women, and service animals who have sacrificed in our country's name. Still, something was missing. As I got my hair cut, drove to the bed store for Memorial Day sales, and walked the dogs in the park, I thought of our fallen soldiers. Yet still, something was missing. Just before dinner, I shared this with my partner. She nodded and showed me some words written by a friend of hers. By nature, these words should never have resonated. I'm not very apologetic. Or religious, and war is not my fault. Yet still, these words, written by a preacher man in upstate NY, finally filled what was missing for me today. "When individuals struggle with things in the same space at the same time, they become a culture that struggles with them."
By Kevin Hershey:
This Memorial Day, many people will offer words of posthumous thanks to you who gave your lives in service to our country, and to your family and friends who deal with the ongoing sacrifice of loss. I echo that gratitude. What I want to say far more is, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that our world can’t figure out the way to peace. I’m sorry, beyond the giving of your life, there was a need for warriors in the first place, for you to meet. I’m sorry you were asked to make choices that pulled you away from family and friends, a life without fear, and the longevity you might have otherwise had.
I’m sorry, not just in the conceptual awareness of the “world’s” mistakes, but I’m sorry for my own. To my knowledge, I haven’t caused any wars. But, I have let anger overcome me to say and do things I knew were wrong. I have let self-righteousness convince me that I knew what was best and didn’t need to listen to another. I have allowed fear to paralyze me to inaction when I knew action was needed. To me, these are the things at the very foundation of war. And when individuals struggle with these things in the same space at the same time, they become a culture that struggles with them. And when a culture struggles with them enough, the poor communal decisions born out of it become those that lead to war. I would bet that every war that ever was or ever will be, has roots in just these kinds of weaknesses – in people, in groups, in countries, in cultures.
So, to those remembered today, I am sorry for my part in perpetuating the world’s culture of war. I am also a part of working toward the world’s culture of peace. And your sacrifice has given me more time and opportunity to work harder toward the latter. I’m trying. Thank you. God keep you.