50 years ago, our nation went to war in Vietnam. I was not yet alive, but I know that the Vietnam War had an indelible impact on our country. I remember my dad's stories about his two best friends in high school - one of whom died in Vietnam, and the other came back with debilitating PTSD.
And now our nation has been at war in the Middle East for longer than some of the children in our church have been alive. Thousands of US soldiers have lost their lives in combat, not to mention the civilians of various nations who have died. And hundreds of soldiers have committed suicide after returning home.
War is a painful, violent reality in our world. As we honor the sacrifices of women and men who willingly gave their lives, we must also commit to one another and to God that we will work to bring about a world of peace. Not only on a global level but also in our own lives, homes, relationships, churches, schools, and communities.
The call to be peacemakers has been a challenge for human beings in every time and place. Isaiah had a vision of a world in which people would "beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4).
I'd like to share with you this prayer from the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin.
"Gracious God, whose own Son's term of service to humanity was so full that its brevity was no distress, we call to mind on this Memorial Sunday those who will not grow old as we are left to grow old, those whose lives were too brief for us but long enough, perhaps, for thee. Forgive us that they died so young because we were too unimaginative, too imperious, too indifferent, or just too late to think of better ways than warfare to conduct the business of the world. Gratefully, we remember the generosity that prompted them to share the last of their rations, the last pair of dry socks, to share in the course of one hour in the foxhole more than most of us care to share with one another in a lifetime. And we recall the courage that made more than one of them fall on the grenade there was no time to throw back.
Grant, O God, that they may not have died in vain. May we draw new vigor from past tragedy. Buttress our instincts for peace, sorely beleaguered. Save us from justifications invented to make us look noble, grand and righteous and from blanket solutions to messy, detailed problems. Give us the vision to see that those nations that gave the most to their generals and least to their poor were, throughout all history, the first to fall. Most of all, give us the vision to see that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth, too small for anything but love. Through Jesus Christ our Savior, who became what we are to make us what he is. Amen."
Blessings and peace to you,