Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014 and the Words of a Fallen Soldier

This is a particularly meaningful Memorial Day.  We are entering the fourth and final year of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War and preparing to begin the 100th anniversary of World War I, two extremely bloody wars that provided the foundation for modern warfare, heralding the advance of technology on the battlefield.
As we celebrate this Memorial Day, remembering those who died in war, I find myself recalling the words of a young British poet who died during the final days of the First World War. 
“The Parable of the Old Man and the Young”
By Wilfred Owen
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and strops,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one. 
If Owen were alive today, he would tell us to stop believing the propaganda of the warmongers who shout all those simplistic slogans about  “God and Country” or “Freedom and Democracy.”  He would tell us to look for the real motivations behind war, such as greed, stupidity and arrogance. 
Isn’t it time we devoted more of our resources toward the goal of peace than toward preparing for war?  Shouldn’t we work toward a world where we no longer need to set aside special days for remembering those who died in war?  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a holiday that celebrated a thousand years of peace?
© 2014 by David Lee McMullen, All Rights Reserved.

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