Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

I'll admit it: I'm inconsistent and possibly even hypocritical about the military.  As a young pup, I toyed with pacifism, but couldn't figure out how to be consistent.  My later teenage years held some fear of being drafted into the Vietnam war.  I've always been uncomfortable with nationalism and jingoism, both of which give patriotism a bad name.

And yet...

Soldiers throughout history have gone to war with the goal of preventing harm to the ones they love and the societies they live in.  I believe that very few soldiers fight out of a sense of pure hatred.  These men and women really have offered their lives up in the service of others.  And while some soldiers have performed terrible acts, most perform their duties to the best of their abilities.

So each memorial day, I wrestle with these conflicting feelings.  But one thing I never feel conflicted about is a deep sense of respect I feel to the men and women who have put their lives in danger, and sorrow at those who have died trying to do the right thing.

I feel this way for soldiers on all sides of every conflict.  As a Jew, I have no respect for Nazism.  But I do feel respect for German soldiers who were fed lies about Jews and made to fight, and I feel sorrow for German soldiers killed.  I'll never forgive the Nazi leaders who knew they were spreading lies; I completely forgive the foot soldiers who thought they were defending their families and society.

So please pause for a moment today and pay your respects to the soldiers of every country throughout history who have given their lives trying to do the right thing.

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