Did you know that women started the tradition of Memorial Day? A group of women began the remembrance by placing flowers at the graves of Civil War soldiers. A woman named Moina Michael thought of wearing red poppies to honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She conceived of the idea to sell poppies to friends to benefit servicemen in need. And another woman, Madam Guerin, learned of the poppy custom and carried it back to France. In the past century, mainly women are the ones left behind to struggle for survival, while men participate in wars.
During my lifetime, it seems as if the United States has always been in some flux of war. There was World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War, War on Drugs and War on Terrorism. It seems like a cultural phenomenon. The United States even had a Department of War, but never a Department of Peace. I suppose that constitutionally, the government is allowed to tax citizens to fund war; and seemingly the government has always found something to 'war' about.
As a pacifist, I would prefer economic sanctions, educational rehabilitation, or incarceration - almost anything other than war. Yet, for those who have sacrificed their lives, I am most grateful and indebted. Most of my family members have served in the armed forces. And in their hearts, they believe that they are fighting for ideals such as democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and humanitarian rights. History may reveal the facts that we were fighting different agendas. However, at the time of the fighting, these men and women were sacrificing everything for their ideals.
Nowhere have I felt the sacrifice of soldiers more than in Normandy, France. Over half a century later, the scars of war still pock mark the landscape. During World War II over 4,300 American, British and Canadian soldiers died storming the beaches. The now azure waters were red as a cardinal's breast with the blood of soldiers. The sand was thick with the blood and bodies of wounded and dead soldiers.
To be able to stand on the shore and breathe the air of liberty comes at a price paid by the lives of heroes. Years after the Allied Invasion of WWII, this young lad stands on the shore in contemplation, a reflection of deep thoughts. Perhaps he is thinking of his grandfather or the significance of history. Perhaps he is thinking of the lives expended for waters so clear. Perhaps he is thinking of world without war, a world full of peace. A sacrifice of so many is worthy of deep reverence. A sacrifice of so many is worthy of peace.