Memorial Day: A Reflection

I regard myself as a soldier, though as a soldier of peace. ~M.K. Gandhi~

We bow our heads in reverence to all those who have given their lives in witness to the truth, or had it taken from them in that effort; who upheld peace and justice in the face of persecution and oppression, often without any warrant of success for their effort but because they could do no differently; for those who have done all they could, often at great personal sacrifice, to keep the banner of human dignity aloft in times of turbulence and violence – like our own.

Many have also lost their lives in the mistaken belief that these very ends could be served by violence. Many entered upon military actions for more self-seeking reasons, or out of the mistaken belief that they had no choice. All these will be the ‘official’ recipients of today’s honor. We have no quarrel with their recognition, especially with those in the former group, but we do urgently propose that killing and its futility will go on and on until humanity recognizes, in holidays such as this one and in many other ways, that the sacrifice human beings have made for peace by the means appropriate to peace, namely nonviolence and not war, are of far greater benefit to humanity and they use such occasions and memorials not only as symbolic gestures, not only as tokens of admiration, but the jumping-off points of concrete actions for peace and justice – times of dedication to do whatever necessary so that, some day, killing is finally banished from our world.