I just want to take a moment to reflect on Memorial Day. I’ve said before, possibly last Memorial Day, that I number myself more likely to go to a barbecue that to a military cemetery or parade. I don’t put posts on my Facebook page calling on people to thank a veteran. I don’t display a flag.
That is not to say that I’m against any of those things. As someone who tends to looks at war as an evil that is rarely necessary and a moral and policy failure even in those cases where it does become necessary, I find the true meaning of Memorial Day particularly important.
It’s important because we need to reflect on the lives lost in defense of our nation. We need to reflect on each of those lives lost as an individual with hopes and dreams who left behind family and friends to protect us. And in that reflection, I believe that we need to ask ourselves if the conflict that claimed them was right, if it was necessary, if it was avoidable. The answers to those questions do not increase or diminish the value of the people lost in a given conflict, nor can it bring back the lost. It does, however give us a chance to analyze our past, to learn from the mistakes and to protect the future from the kinds of mistakes that lead nations to war.
So this Memorial Day, don’t hesitate to be thankful for the courage and sacrifice of those who offer their lives in our defense, but more importantly, don’t hesitate to look at the conflicts, even the ones that seem justified, with a critical eye, not in judgment, but in the hope of a future where war is rare. I would much rather see our military cemeteries filled with veterans who die of old age than young soldiers cut down in their youth.