I spend the morning with my children at the cemetery. The high school band played, the mayor placed a wreath at the war memorial, and servicemen, including a veteran of Pearl Harbor, spoke to us. We bought red paper poppies to pin to our shirts.
We didn’t talk about Memorial Day in sacrament meeting yesterday. The only mention was that the scouts would be placing flags on lawns.
It seems that we should want to remember and honor those who have fought and fallen in our worship services. How many times in the Book of Mormon are the people exhorted to remember and always retain a remembrance of the the faith of their forefathers and the mercies God has shown to them?
I am not a huge fan of the war chapters of the Book of Mormon; I’m not terribly interested in battles and strategy in general. But I do love the passion of Captain Moroni and his bold and heartfelt reminder to the people that there are things worth fighting for: our God, our freedom, our religion, our peace and our families. I love the sincere repentance of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, their abandonment of war, even to the point of death. Their story of non-violent acceptance is powerful and heartbreaking. I love that the Nephites took them in and protected them, sacrificing their lives for the new converts to their faith.
I remember these stories, and my heart breaks. I read about the trenches of World War I, and my heart breaks. My twelve year old son and I just read Maus by Art Spiegelman, and we talked about World War II, and the Holocaust, and Uncle Charlie who fought overseas there, who couldn’t bear to share many of his stories before he was lost to Alzheimer’s. We remember, and our hearts break. And every day I hear the news about insurgencies and bombings, civil wars and genocides and terrorism, I mourn our fallen state, where it seems we have become too good at hurting one another and destroying ourselves.
I don’t see any end to war, and that breaks my heart most of all. We can’t even overcome our petty everyday jealousies, our bickering and gossiping and minor spats. How can we end wars built on centuries of injury and offence between nations if we cannot live together peaceably in our own families and communities? I can only pray for Zion, for that great and terrible day of judgment and suffering, pray for forgiveness and redemption.
I remember with my broken heart, my heart that condemns me for my own bellicosity, and I thank God for all those who have served and sacrificed. Thank you, from one who is too often thoughtless and ungrateful. Thank you.