Wasn’t Memorial Day last week? Yes, but we were working around our high school seniors’ schedule so we could do their very important bridging ceremonies into UU adulthood last Sunday – congrats grads and new UU adults!
I’m a little stubborn when it comes to Memorial and Veterans’ Day, so we are observing this national holiday one week late. I’m very excited to be featuring three of our own church members and friends, whom all served in Vietnam: Frank Dungan, Jess Womack, and Mary Grover, who served two tours in the USO. They have photos, stories, and insights to share with us. While Memorial Day traditionally observes our fallen men and women in military service, it’s also a time to remember the unique experiences of our servicemen and women who are still with us, that we might bridge (however slightly) the widening gap between civilians and those who serve our military.
I worry about this gap. We have become soft. Did you know over 70% of our young people no longer qualify for military service, due to criminal convictions or health issues? This means the recruitment pool is very small for our all-volunteer forces. It is not an easy thing to do, to go fight in a war, but it can be necessary, to protect the country that we love, when the fight is right. Sadly, the fight is often wrong these days, but that is not the fault of our brave men and women volunteers, who take orders by the people we elect.
Unitarian Universalism, if you look at its history, is deeply intertwined with American history: we were there for it all. John Murray, popularly known as the “Father of American Universalism” was hand-picked by George Washington to serve as chaplain in his security detail. Our values and ethics have stood for fairness, freedom, and peace all along, but they’ve also stood for fighting for these things when necessary. It’s time for all Americans to stop forfeiting their role when it comes to our armed forces, whatever that role may look like for each of us. For me, it’s raising awareness at least twice a year that we should never take our veterans and our active armed forces for granted: for many give the ultimate sacrifice, and we will remember that this Sunday.
See you in church!