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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day, USA

In spite of, or because of, my personal and religious commitment to pacifism I find I am a real softy when it comes to memorials to fallen soldiers. I can remember getting very weeping over lists of soldiers who have died in one conflict of another. And yet, I have never know a person who died in a conflict or even a family that had someone die. I have had a couple of wet eyed moment already today over what I have read and sen on TV.In spite of the fact I would never volunteer to go to war, I admire those who willingly answer their governments call. It is the futility of war and the waste of lies fighting them than make wartime deaths so poignant to me.

There are very few wars that are justified. I do not accept the mythical justifications for them: patriotism, protect our freedom, honour etc. With a little research it is not hard to learn that wars are never fought for the reason used to lead a Nation's young to fight them. Wars are really a testament to the failure of a Nation's political leadership. Wars are fought for lies and usually economic reasons. (So be it. I don't expect anyone to agree with me.) In any case, my cynical views do not diminish the respect I have for those who have fought and died for their government.

I am always impressed with the respect Europeans have for the sacrifices of foreign soldiers in the First and Second World Wars. They are the ones who can justifiably claim their freedom was paid for by the sacrifice of soldiers who stepped up. This is particularly true in the Netherlands. The Dutch have never forgotten the debt they feel they owe others. Yearly they celebrate their liberation by the Canadians, Americans and British. They teach it to their children and now the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those liberated are remembering.

I don't thinks Americans fully appreciate the respect their soldiers are shown in the Netherlands and Belgium as well as other places in Europe. Canadians take some pride in their efforts to liberate the low countries and the special relationship we have had with the Dutch Royal Family. I believe we are more aware of being appreciated. Each year memorial services are held and cemetaries are visited remembering the soldiers who died and were buried in their country.

Margraten Cemetary in the Netherlands

Margraten Cemetary is the largest American War Cemetary in the Netherlands. It holds the graves of 8301 American soldiers and 1700 missing from the Battle of Arnhem.

Since the Second World War individuals have adopted particular graves and visited, tended the grave and remembered the soldiers over the years. Some have even maintained a relationship with the soldiers relatives over the years. There actually is a waiting list to adopt a grave, remarkably after all these years. Here is a story from Radio Netherlands International. It is interesting to visit on the Internet the War Cemetaries in Europe. I recommend it if you are interested at all in history.

It would ber nice for Americans to know that on Memorial Day they are not the only ones to remember and appreciate the death of their soldiers in war.


At 7:16 p.m., Blogger KGMom said...

Philip--you capture exactly my dilemma--hating war, honoring those who have served and died, and despising the leaders who make young people fight needlessly.

We have seen the cemeteries in Normandy where the Allies killed in D-Day fighting and immediately after are buried. We also have seen the cemetery in Luxembourg where Patton is buried, along with his troops.

Allies are greatly honored in Europe for what they did.

At 8:02 a.m., Blogger possum said...

Well, you know I am one who agrees with you on the anti-war side of things. My Sunday newsletter starts with a list of dead and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, then I have several quotes either specifically anti-war or Buddhist - or both.
8 years ago I felt like a voice in the dark warning about the war that Bush promised us before he was not elected and then voicing my non-support for our war and occupation of a country that had done NOTHING to us. (OK, Saddam threatened Bush's "daddy.") At first, it seemed that I was the lone "nut case" but, finally, I found a lot of others agreed with me but were afraid it was unpatriotic to be against the war. How is it patriotic to send our kids off to be killed and wounded in a country that did not do anything to us? We are sacrificing our kids to the great god Greed.
OK, so I am an unpatriotic heretic, c est moi! And as a Native American, don't tell me they are fighting for MY freedom. We lost that a long time ago.

At 12:03 p.m., Blogger Casey said...

Philip, I am in agreement on this one. I am a pacifist as well, and do not agree with the current conflicts raging, including Afghanistan.

Being the daughter, sister and granddaughter of vertans though, I I also appreciate their service.

My dad had been to Holland several times before his death last year. He was moved to tears, even with the re-telling of how he was treated by any and all Dutch people he met. He was overcome with gratitude for their gratitude, if that even makes sense. He told me that no Canadian visitor is ever treated as a stranger, but as a long lost friend.

Wonderful people...simply wonderful.


At 2:59 p.m., Blogger Barry said...

It is an delicate but important balancing act to honour those who game their lives for us without honouring war.

That was a very special post.

At 6:54 a.m., Blogger Old Wom Tigley said...

Another very touching post Philip.. I can fully understand your feeling here... excellent, thought provoking post.

At 2:50 p.m., Blogger Gretchen said...

I so agree and I married a Marine! Our daughter is getting ready to start her junior year in high school, so all the colleges and military recruiters are starting to send their spam to her. I told her quite simply if she ever gets it in her head to enlist, she will find herself packed in a box and shipped off to visit a friend in Canada until she gets some sense in her head. There is no reason to continue to feed the war machine. There's no sense in it. Far too many on both sides have died since the bush started the whole mess years ago over a lie. :(

At 5:53 p.m., Blogger Laurie said...

I did not know that about the adopt a grave program. Thank you.

At 8:37 p.m., Blogger Rachel said...

I had no idea that they had that cemetary there in the Netherlands and that you could adopt a grave. Over 8000! So many! I'll check out the link! Thanks!

I was always thankful that none of my brothers had to fight in the wars, nor my Dad either.


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