Monday, May 27, 2013

remembering Arlington

I remember years ago visiting my uncle's grave in Arlington National Cemetery. He was a Navy ensign pilot during WWII and was killed in a plane crash while he was training a new pilot. He had just gotten married a few weeks before and so it was especially hard on my grandparents and my mom (as well as his widow). I never got to meet him, though I played his cello in school and heard many stories from my Mom about this creative, fun-loving brother of hers.

I remember seeing a group of kids walk by and I remember thinking "Oh God, please no more stupid wars. Please protect these kids from those who would throw their lives away as a way to make political points or settle personal scores".  The Iraq war was still going on then and I was opposed to it from the beginning because it was such a stupid war.  We had a bumper sticker which said "Support the troops, Bring them home". Those who serve should have their service honored, in part by using that service wisely.

We have had in our history too many wars and other military engagements which squandered many lives and should have been avoided. One of these was the Mexican-American War, which was opposed by Congressman Abraham Lincoln, later one of our greatest Presidents. He believed that it was contrived and not in our national interest. He was one who agonized over war, not gloried in it, something that our political leaders should remember and emulate.

Gazing over the field at Arlington should be a requirement for anyone who contemplates political office. And remembering the lives those graves represent should be a requirement for everyone. Honor the dead and be resolved that, as Lincoln said, "these lives should not have died in vain".

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