Yesterday was Memorial Day and it is an important holiday in the minds of many people in this country. And in mine. It is important for us to remember those men and women who have died in defense of the United States. Many of their sacrifices have ensured that America remains free. I honor them for that. But I also pray for the day when we will no longer be adding names to that list.
I first arrived in Vietnam in early June of 1968. I landed in Ben Hoa and then spent about a week in Saigon before being sent to Phu Bai, an area a few miles south of the old imperial capital of Hue. On my journey north I spent a few days in Da Nang. Now the army didn’t want people in transit just sitting around so we were all sent on details. I was sent to work at the morgue. While I had already seen a fire fight in Saigon, I had yet to see any dead Americans. I got to see quite a few that day. They were all young men, some probably weren’t even men yet. They were laid out naked with cotton over their eyes and genitals and tags on their toes. I can still close my eyes and see those bodies and if I ever smell formaldehyde it will trigger that memory.
Lots of people died in Vietnam after that day. And then in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and not to forget other places where we have chosen to project our power in the world. Some of those who have died were “good” people–others not so “good.” But they all died young. The saying used to be that young men die in wars and nothing can change that. Now, I guess, we have to say that young men and women die in wars and nothing can change that.
I’m not a pacifist, but neither do I believe that Christians ought to be blase’ about this. Ought not those called by the One who said that we are to love our enemies and pray for them be just a bit more vocal about not going to battle at the drop of a political hat? Ought not Christians, when praying for those who defend us, pray also that they will never be deployed without to do so without something more than an economic or political goal to be attained?
War is the result of sin–each and every war, each and every time. Jesus came to save us and to change us into men and women more like Him. Think about that.