For the Lost
On a day like Memorial Day there are mothers and fathers who suffer uniquely as they remember. These are the childless. Their son or daughter was slaughtered in the service of our country and no matter how pure the motive of a particular combat mission, the sorrow remains until their own last breath. To use the word 'sacrifice' is in a way to sanitize the ugliness of how most combatants die. To die in battle is one of the most bloody and brutal ways to lose life. A ripping, shredding and smashing of flesh and organs and limbs. Bullets, flame throwers and hand grenades end what might have been. From the crude explosions of the Civil War to the gassing of men in the trenches of France in WWI, there is no pretty way to discuss loss of life in war. It is dark and ugly and cruel, leaving emotional scars on the parents left behind.
There are times when war is fought for just causes, but we wonder if any mother ever feels there is a reason worthy enough to lose the baby she carried in her womb? On the day when her little one was born could she have imagined willingly giving her child up for the reasons determined by leaders she does not know? War is sometimes the only path, but not always successful when we look back in analysis. Modern warfare is terrible in its destructive capability and unearthly in its completeness. We hope that we will only fight the just war, but history also has much to say about falling short of this goal.
War results in empty arms and unfilled chairs at the dining table; missing children on Christmas morning and birthdays, Mother's Day and 4th of July. Instead the children rest in cemeteries all over the world. I've stood in awe in the middle of thousands of crosses in the American Cemetery in Normandy; in profound sadness for the thousands of American families damaged by WWII. On our own soil we have green fields like Arlington, Gettysburg and Fredericksberg that serve as burial ground for thousands more Americans. And for every headstone there is a childless-not-by-choice person who wept for the lost child; victim of war and history. Today I remembered them too.