(with thanks to Karen N, Chris G, Mark D, and Mitch H who reminded me of some important truths)
Memorial Day is an official U.S. Federal Holiday. It's a day off work for some (but not for those who work in retail or in hospitality).
In the colder northern States it's reckoned to be the start of the summer barbecue season - just another holiday. But it's not about the barbecue dammit!
Here's what it is about
Memorial Day (first known as Decoration Day - when the graves of those killed in the Civil War were decorated);was popularly known as Memorial Day; and later given that name by official acts of first the State of New York, and later the Federal Government (1967).
The first Memorial Day (as officially recognised by the U.S. Congress) took place in Waterloo, N.Y. in 1866. A Waterloo Pharmacist said that it was all very well to celebrate the courage of living soldiers from the Civil War, but shouldn't there also be a solemn commemoration of those who were killed in that war.
Thus it should be that the first duty of patriotic Americans next Monday should be a solemn (and perhaps prayerful) reflection on the terrible cost of War: young women and men cut down in the prime of life; all too many spouses, children, parents, siblings and dear friends left bereft and with a lifetime of grief.
The terrible cost of war:
620,000 military deaths (Confederate and Union soldiers mowed down in the War between the States).
58.200 American military deaths in the Viet Nam war. 1.1 million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong deaths 8.5 to 9.7 Million military deaths in World War I. AGAIN Thus it should be that the first duty of patriotic Americans next Monday should be a solemn (and perhaps prayerful) reflection on the terrible cost of War
As you think and pray I remind you of what is sometimes called (in an Orwellian way) Collateral Damage. In World War One. Ten million civilian deaths In Vietnam. Two million civilian deaths in north and south. In World War Two and the blitz of the the U.K. 43,000 civilian deaths. In World War TwoBritish Fire Bombings of Hamburg and Dresden (militarily unnecessary)66,600 civilian deaths, many burned alive. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
I am reading a biography of William Tecumseh Sherman ( "Fierce Patriot. The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman" Robert L O'Connell, Random House, 2015).
Many Americans will have heard of Sherman: brilliant Union Army General, hater and subsequent scourger of the Confederacy, despiser of American Indians (he wanted them eliminated), disdainer of Negro (the word used then) slaves and former slaves - he was at best a reluctant abolitionist.
What many do not know is that he was the government appointed "commander in chief" for the construction of the trans-continental railroad.
He faced major obstacles including (a) the presence of the great plains Indians who lands would be needed for the "development" which was certain to accompany the new rail road. For Sherman, the Indians were expendable. (b) the massive herds of Bison (essential for the Indians' "economy" and way of life.
Massive herds of Bison? No problem, for the Bible says that we are to have dominion over them.
Thus, with Sherman's encouragement, THREE MILLION Bison were killed between 1872 and 1874.
Having dominion - a doctrine which has led to our present environmental disaster.
Human arrogance (rooted in the Bible) has led us to believe that we can do whatever we will with what we call "nature".
We have this strange idea that we are not a part of the environment, that we are not a part of nature, that somehow we stand outside the natural world, that somehow we are not a part of the environment.
As we despoil and destroy the environment, so we also despoil and destroy ourselves.
For another and more life giving understand of "dominion" please see this: