Monday, May 31, 2010

How About a Day for Those Who Love Peace?

I think it says something about our temperament as a country that we have two two national holidays--one today, Memorial Day--to honor dead soldiers, and not a minute devoted to those who collectively toiled for peace throughout our history.

There is a Vietnam Memorial in Washington, but nothing denoting the millions who poured into the streets and had the hell beaten out of them in the name of peace during that period. They shortened the war and saved a lot of human lives.

There are memorials to the dead in Korea, Iraq (twice), World War II, World War I, the Spanish-American War, Granada, the Civil War, the War of 1812, the American Revolution, the Texas "war for freedom" (which was fought because Mexico opposed slavery and Texans wanted to keep their slaves), and on, and on, ad infinitum.

People who love peace hold lonely, ill-attended vigils, flower-infused rallies and quiet readings. They're often derided by our warrior culture as cowards or "appeasers," people who "hate America" or who misunderstand its ignoble, colonial, resource-grabbing ambitions. My impression over many years is that those in the peace movement are idealists who believe in America and Americans--despite the best evidence to the contrary. They are brave souls, not afraid to be jeered, who turn the other cheek in the face of brutality and whose strongest expression is an incredible and peaceful grace, something a warring culture lacks almost completely in most circumstances.

I'm afraid my temper and tendency to use the same confrontational, diminishing, disrespectful tactics and language as the opposition keeps me from being worthy of membership in the brotherhood of my peaceful friends, but I admire them and I would genuinely love to see them honored in some significant way.

Let's not set aside another battlefield in this country or build another ugly, mid-town statue of some half-savage trained killer holding a gun until we've constructed a 100-foot-tall, white marble peace lily to those who have honored our best instincts, those who have fought for peace--and yes, I see the oxymoron there, but it's language we all understand, unfortunately.


  1. "those who toil for peace" can thank those who died for their ability to protest. They have this right and this privilege 365 days a year. Let's just take this one to say a quiet thank you to the men and women who make it possible.

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  3. Amen Dan - or at least a commitment on "Memorial Day" to peace. You are absolutely right and I thank you!

  4. Hear, hear, Dan!

    Jennifer, I think it's a mistake to assume that all people who advocate peace are opposed to the men and women of our military. It's not an either/or as far as I'm concerned.