I went to see the Andrew Jackson Memorial in Louisville, Kentucky. In it was a life-size marble stature of Jackson on a horse, rearing in the air. He was holding a sword above his head as if he were leading a charge.
Walking outside that area, I found myself standing in a large military cemetery. White crosses in perfect aligned rows were everywhere. As I walked among them, I read the inscriptions, and calculated how old they were when they were killed. They were young. There were male and female, black and white, Christians and Jews. They were sons and daughters, fathers and mothers; the best that America had to give. As I thought about them and the people they had left behind, my eyes filled with tears and then a constant flow started that I couldn’t hide or hold back.
Jackson’s memorial was not the only one there. Every tombstone is a memorial to the one whose remains lay beneath it. There is no doubt that we should remember and honor our fallen dead. It is a good thing to do.
But I would propose a better thing. If we love our patriotic young men and women, let us stop getting them killed in needless wars. Let’s stop adding memorials and begin protecting the lives of our troops.
We can start by bringing all our people home from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and we can do it now. Then, we can strongly encourage our political and military leaders to find peaceful solutions to world problems and not constantly fall back on military might. Might does not determine who is right, only who is left.
Dr. Robert Wilkerson is a minister, writer, and founder of People for the Christian Way, an organization whose mission is to encourage all people to practice Christian principles in business, politics, and every area of life. firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.people-for-the-christian-way.org