On this Memorial Day, we remember those who serve faithfully, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve what they believed. God bless them all and give us the strength and courage to stand as tall as they did.
Of the five obstacles toward ultimate happiness and peace and union with God, according to yoga, the fear of death is the most challenging one. Yet, as I reflect on this Memorial Day and read the above Catholic prayer from the Franciscan Media Center, I realize that this is not only a day to remember the war dead but a day to remember all who have died because they believed in something greater than physical death. Their belief surpassed their fear of death.
I am aware that not everyone who dies in war gets beyond the fear but those who are used as our source of inspiration on this day held a high ideal, a divine ideal, in their minds that allowed them to transcend the loss of their physical body.
Because yoga believes that all humans are divine, infinite and perfect, or as the Jewish and Christian scriptures say: “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them” (Gen 1:27 NABR), my thoughts go to all humans who died for their belief in freedom and prosperity and justice for all. That would include all the so-called guerilla fighters in Central and South America who were fighting against dictatorships that caused immense poverty or destroyed indigenous peoples’ lands for natural resources. That would include journalists who believed in reporting the truth about the crimes that certain governments commit or just exposing unjust actions by powerful people. That includes human rights’ protesters who are killed while saving Palestinian houses from being bulldozed by Israeli construction workers. That may also include someone who protests against all war and violence, like Gandhi or Martin Luther King or Oscar Romero or Jesus of Nazareth.
Would that also include someone who is killed while being tortured during a war? Maybe even an “enemy” who is tortured?
I know that Memorial Day in the United States is traditionally focused on our own military soldiers who died fighting for our U.S. principles and beliefs, like freedom and democracy. Yet, I wonder about all those U.S. journalists, or doctors, or nurses, or protesters who die while fighting for other high U.S. principles and beliefs, like health and justice for the oppressed, or for the right for all to live as they believe they should, or for the sacredness of the land and our Earth’s trees, water, and air.
Can we extend this Memorial Day – this day of memory—to them as well?
All humans are made in the image of God and all who die for higher, god-like values, may need to be remembered on this Memorial Day as well. God really loves all War Dead. And, of course, according to all the religious traditions, we never die. We go someplace else—heaven, hell, purgatory or into another physical life. Even non-believers in the afterlife believe that humans never die as long as their memory is preserved…like we are doing on this Memorial Day!
So actually, Memorial Day is a day for us to remember Life, not Death.
Happy Life Day to you!