Think of peace on Memorial Day | Editorial
May 27, 2011 · Updated 1:35 PM
Memorial Day is a solemn time to honor our nation’s war dead while also enjoying our families and communities. The number of people who have given their lives for this country over the last two centuries is astounding. Some of our wars have faded into history, such as the Indian wars, Mexican War, Spanish American War and Philippines War; others are fading quickly from our memories as the last veterans die, such as World War I; while others seem like they just happened yesterday, like World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Gulf War, because of the many veterans and their families that are still active in remembering. Meanwhile, wars are still going on, including the Afghanistan War and Iraq War. Still others may be brewing in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Including the many smaller wars, hundreds of thousands of Americans have died fighting for their country through the years. Students still study the battles, books are still written about them, films are still based on them, and legends are still told about them.
But what about peace? It should be the goal of America to stand strong with a defense that no one would dare challenge, but to avoid war whenever possible. Peace is given short shrift in American history, and in American foreign policy.
Can we think of any great American peacemakers? Gen. George Marshall, perhaps, but the Marshall Plan came after he fought and helped win a long war. The same goes for President Eisenhower, who won a war before ending a nasty conflict in Korea instead of expanding it into China. President Kennedy avoided a nuclear with Russia over Cuba, but by the skin of his teeth. Every president since 1948 has tried to forge a lasting peace in the Middle East, but each has failed.
While we honor those who have fallen this Memorial Day weekend, perhaps we should study history to find more peacemakers, and strategize over how to find and support those who exist today and how to create more of them through education.
Peace is hard, but war is incredibly painful, with its effects lasting for generations. As someone once said, let’s get serious and “give peace a chance.”