Tag Archives: memorials

MEMORIAL DAY’S MISSING NOTE

It’s good to remember and honor those who died in our many wars. However, as some of us know, the good is often the enemy of the best. We have recently observed Memorial Day. Through television, we have seen memorial services, both large and small, near and far. Through thousands of speeches, we have been encouraged to remember the fallen. Yet, there has been one supremely important note missing from most speeches.

Perhaps, if we are open-minded enough, we can learn from the Civil Rights Movement how to memorialize people. They fought a war for justice, equality and fairness. They fought it by using nonviolence. Yet, that war cost them dearly in terms of pain, suffering, and death. They built memorials to their heroes; people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Fred Shuttlesworth, and many, many others who were a part of the struggle for civil and human rights. You only have to visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum to see many of the relics of that struggle. One of the best displays is the burned Greyhound bus, from which freedom riders (who were nothing but young college students, both black and white, male and female) were pulled out of the bus by an angry mob and unmercifully beaten.

Across the street from the museum is the 16th Street Baptist Church where you’ll find a memorial for four little girls who were murdered in Sunday School by a bomb planted by a hate-filled racist.  In the park directly in front of the museum, you can see the bronze statues of vicious dogs and water cannons that were used on the demonstrators, including the children. Those memorials and speakers who speak about those days normally don’t leave out the most important note, which is a statement, a statement that says loudly and clearly, “Never again! Never again!”  Never again white-only schools, white-only restrooms, white-only water fountains, white-only movies, white-only restaurants. Never again being forced to sit on the back of the bus. Never again being denied the right to vote by racist trickery or racist redistricting. Never again having to get off the sidewalk for white people. Never again!

Shouldn’t this same missing note be sounded loudly and clearly for those who honor our war dead?  Those who died in the War Between the States, World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and on and on the list goes. Don’t we have enough white crosses in our cemeteries? Don’t we have enough people without arms or legs? Don’t we have enough veterans so terribly shocked by the gruesome horror of war that they can’t function in society? Isn’t it time we say never again to war?  Isn’t it time we learned to solve our differences without constantly going to war? Shouldn’t we be saying at our war memorials, never again!

I know some of you are thinking we’ve got to defend our country and our freedom. The sad truth to that widely-believed statement is that no country in the world has been a serious threat to the United States of America or to our freedom since December 7, 1941. Shouldn’t we be saying loudly and clearly, never again!

Robert G. Wilkerson, D.Min., is a minister, writer and co-founder of People For the Christian Way. drbobwilkerson@bellsouth.net. PeoplefortheChristianWay.com

NO MORE MEMORIALS

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. drbobwilkerson@bellsouth.net, http://www.people-for-the-christian-way.org

MEMORIALS OF GOD’S MERCY

One of the first memorials was built by Samuel (2 Sam. 7:12). It was a huge stone that he named “Ebenezer” which meant, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” He built it after God had intervened in a great battle and given Israel the victory. It was to remind them of God’s mercy.
We need to erect memorials ourselves to remind us of the times when God, in His mercy, has intervened for us. In our personal experience, life has not run on an even keel since last year. There have been disappointments, trials, fears, and sufferings-yet God has been with us in them all. Our lives have been spared from death, from disease, and disaster. Every day we spend in good health is a day to thank God for His mercy.
Some of us have seen God’s mercy in our families. Has the family circle been blessed? Have we seen an increase (a little one)? Have we seen our children come to know the Lord and begin to grow in knowledge and grace? Have we had a roof over our heads, shoes on our feet, clothing to wear, and something to eat? Than let us thank God for His mercies.
Economically, it has been a bad year for thousands of people. Money has been tight, and jobs hard to find. In spite of a bad economy, some of us have prospered and we need to thank God for it. Most of us haven’t prospered, but we have held our own—and we thank God for that. Some of us have lost many of the materials things of life which we thought were riches. Now we are discovering true riches, things like God Himself, our families, our friends, and God’s provisions. One tornado victim, being interviewed by a TV reporter while standing before his home which had been turned into a trash pile, said it well. He said, “That’s just stuff. I can replace stuff. My family and I were spared and for that I am thankful!”
As a child of God, we don’t ever have to despair. We have a Father who is rich and very merciful, and He loves each and every one of us. Thank God for His mercy.

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. drbobwilkerson@bellsouth.net, http://www.people-for-the-christian-way.org