Sunday, May 25, 2008

When will they ever learn?

Memorial Day, a federal holiday in the United States, is observed on the last Monday in May. It commemorates U.S. men and women who died in military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War and known as Decoration Day, after World War I it was expanded to include casualties of any war or military action.

My words get caught in my throat. There is nothing I can say that will return the dead, and sadly, nothing that will prevent more from dying. If I could give comfort to mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters who've lost someone to war, I would, but is that possible? I would not be comforted. Or would I take heart in knowing that my loved one would be remembered? That would not be enough for me, I know. My loved ones have been spared, but I feel the collective sorrow. When will it ever end?

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” ~Arthur Ashe


Janice Thomson said...

A deep question that burns in the heart of many a soul world wide.
A moving post Ruth and the quote above serves to emphasize this.

Lisa said...

I know what you mean, Ruth . . . words simply can't convey the caring we feel for people who have lost their loved ones in any war, past or present. Beautiful and moving photos, here. The one of Bruce's reflection in the memorial is so powerful.

sc morgan said...

Great photos, Ruth. That is a very powerful memorial, isn't it? I remember going there and being completely overwhelmed by it..

One thing I think is so amazing about the memorial is its designer, Maya Lin. She was only 21 years old when she did that, and still a student at Yale. Such sensitivity for an era she never even shared. Her design forces the visitor to look over the course of the war to find the name(s) they are looking for as they are listed chronologically, rather than (more conveniently) alphabetically. The loss is magnified and shared among those touching the wall.

My father, who served in WWII, says that until we quit memorializing the dead of wars, wars will continue. I'm not sure he is right, but I understand his sentiment.

Barry said...

I left DC before the Wall was built and haven’t gotten back there yet. But a decade or so ago, just after the first Gulf War, a Traveling Wall toured the country. They set it up on a windswept hill in an isolated part of Fort Hood and stood aside. It was only half, maybe three-quarter size, without any of the elegant landscaping and presence of the memorial in Washington.

They came from all over to see it. Young soldiers in uniform, old vets in their VFW caps, folks in civvies. My wife and I knew no one listed on the wall, but we walked past all those names from beginning to end, and were soon choked up and weeping like those around us.

The only sound I could hear was the wind blowing across the prairie.

Ruth D~ said...

The silence is thick and the emotion palpable and contagious whether you know a name on the wall or not. I think I must know someone among the 58,000 names, but I don't know for sure. Still . . . the names are someone's son or daughter and thats the point that nick us all in the heart.

I understand where your father is coming from. The nightly news showed the presentation of a flag to a couple whose son had died in combat. He's a hero, they were told. Damn it! They don't want a hero, whatever that means; they want their son. Alive.

Wanda said...

What a touching post ~ It demands my silence and my prayers.

Dave said...

Amen, your echo in my heart.

Bob Sanchez said...

Thanks for the great post and photos, Ruth. That's Bruce reflected on the Wall?

I've expected to find names I knew on the Wall, but found none.

You ask when it will end, and I wonder whether you mean the sorrow or the deaths of our service people? The sorrow fades, but never seems to end completely. As long as mothers have children, our leaders will have wars to send them to. Peace, it seems, is just the lull between wars.

Tere said...

Beautiful . . . the sentiment and the photos. I moved from the DC area before the Wall was built but visited it later. I was so moved by it and also the Korean War Memorial. They are such touching reminders of those who served and paid the price. And a grim reminder that there is yet another war going on and more dying.