Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day: Remembering those who have died and praying for an end to all war

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.

Romans 12:9-16b

Today -- please -- may we set aside our political differences, our religious differences, our geographic and ethnic differences. Today may the culture wars stop. Just for one day. Go back to these conflicts again tomorrow if you must, but today: Stop.

Today we remember.

Today we mark Memorial Day on our secular calendar, and we also mark the Feast of the Visitation to the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Church calendar, one of the major Marian feasts of the year. The reading above from Paul's Letter to the Romans is appointed for today's Mary feast, and I think it also appropriate for Memorial Day.

Today we stop to remember those who have died in service to our country. And, especially on this day we remember Mary, let us also pray for their mothers.

Each Sunday at St. Paul's we pray aloud for those who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We remember them by saying their name, aloud, one at a time. Among my tasks on Saturdays is to prepare the prayer list with the names of those soldiers, sailors and Marines who have died in these conflicts. In the last year, the casualties have shifted to Afghanistan even as the war in Iraq winds down. We have even gone several weeks with no dead soldiers reported from Iraq. But when a battle in Kandahar hits the headlines, the list of the dead surges.

I find it sobering to compile this list each week, and I sometimes sit with a name for a time, praying for the loved ones left behind who, at that moment, are doubtless in shock and in excruciating pain. Most of the war dead are young, many are teens. Most are men, most are enlisted. I wonder what they looked like? What music did they like? What were their dreams for their future? I pray for the mothers, who like Mary, must now endure the death of their sons or daughters.

It seems very little to ask that we remember them -- by name -- in our prayers today, and to pray for those who have been caught in the cross-fire. Here is the list of the American soldiers, sailors and Marines who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of the year:

Brushaun Anderson
David Croft
Michael Jarrett
Anton Phillips
Brian Bowman
Joshua Lengstrof
John Dion
Bradley Smith
Jason Hickman
Mark Juarez
Jacob Meinhert
Nicholas Uzenski

Gifford Hurt
Jaime Lowe
Matthew Ingham
Geoffrey Whitsitt
Daniel Merriweather
Lucas Beachnaw
Kyle Wright
Christopher Hrbek
Robert Donevski
Michael Shannon
Adam Ginnett
Paul Pena
Thaddeus Montgomery


Scott Barnett
Gifford Hurt
Carlos Gill
Zachary Smith
Daniel Angus
Timothy Poole
Jeremy Kane
Xin Qi ("Gin Ki")


Scott Barnett
Zachary Lovejoy
Daniel Whitten
Michael Freeman
David Thompson
Marc Paul Decoteau
Rusty Christian
David Smith


Adriana Alvarez
Adam Ray
Dillion Foxx
David Hartman
Matthew Sluss-Tiller
Mark Stets

Sean Caughman
Alejandro Yazzie
Noah Pier
Guy Mellors
Jason Estopina
Jacob Turbet
John Reiners
Jeremiah Wittman
Bobby Pagen

William Spencer
Daniel O'Leary
Billie Grinder
Marcus Alford
Scott Barnett
Marcos Gorra
Matthais Hanson
Eric Ward
Adam Peak
J.R. Salvacion
Christopher Eckard
Michael Cardenaz
Gregory Stultz
Joshua Birchfield
Kielin Dunn
Jeremy McQuery
Kyle Coutu
Larry Johnson


Nigel Olsen
Vincent Owens
Carlos Aragon
Ian Gelig
Matthew Huston
Josiah Crumpler
William Ricketts


Aaron Arthur
Lakeshia Bailey
Garrett Gamble
Jason Kropat
Jonathan Richardson
Nicholas Cook
Alan Dikcis
Anthony Paci


Richard Jordan
Erin McLyman
Steven Bishop
Adam Brown
Robert Gilbert II
Glen Whetten
Jonathan Porto


Robert Rieckhoff
Rick Centanni
Robert Cottle
Justin Wilson
Carlos Santos-Silva
Joel Clarkson

Raymond Pacleb
Frank World
James Miller
Randy Heck
Jacob Ross


Robert Collins
Anthony Blount
Kurt Kruize
Roberto Diaz Borio
James Lackey
Randall Voas
Curtis Swenson
Michael Sweeney

Joseph Caron
Sean Durkin
Michael Jankiewicz
Jonathan Hall


Charlie Antonio
James Patton
John LaBorde
Robert Barrett
Randolph Sigley
Michael Ingram


Keith Coe
Christopher Worrell
Thomas Rivers
Nathan Kennedy
Grant Wichmann
Ronald Kubik
Jason Santora


Ralph Mena
Anthony Magee
Wade Slack
Richard Penny
Brandon Barrett
Austin Benson
Harvey Holmes
Mark Coleman
Eric Finniginam
Salvatore Corma


Essau Gonzales
Dennis Kisseloff
Joshua Desforges
Donald Lamar II
Jeffrey Johnson
Kenneth May Jr.
Kurt Shea
Jeremy Brown
Kyle Comfort
Joshua Davis


Shane Barnard
Patrick Xavier Jr.
Joshua Tomlinson
Richard Tieman
Thomas Belkofer
Paul Bartz
John McHugh
Nicholas Paradarodriguez
Billy Anderson
Adam Perkins
Zarian Wood


Roger Culver
Amilcar Gonzales
Stanley Sokolowski
Edwin Rivera
Christopher Barton
Jason Fingar
Notes on Memorial Day: With its origins in the Civil War, Memorial Day began as a day to honor the dead of North and South. The day was deliberately chosen because it was near the anniversary of the day that the war ended, thus making Memorial Day a reminder that our highest value is not warfare but an end to war and reconciliation with our enemies.

Following World War I, the dead of all wars were included in Memorial Day. The calamity of World War I was without parallel in world history; no war had ever claimed so many lives globally. There came a growing awareness that the dead of that war -- and every war -- should never be forgotten.

The word "Memorial" became increasingly popular in public buildings and churches in the 1920s, meant to create lasting memorials for the dead of World War I. St. Paul's Memorial Church, founded in 1910, predated that movement but no doubt the name evoked memories of the war dead as the building was constructed in 1927.

Today, let us remember those who have died in all wars, and remember those who are still dying on battlefields across the globe. Let us remember those Americans who have died for our country, and let us pray for our enemies, and pray that all who are at war may one day find peace and reconciliation.

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