Memorial Day

Memorial Day Sarasota National Cemetery

On this Memorial Day we acknowledge that freedom is not free.

Memorial Day is in honor of those who died while serving in the armed forces to stop the global march of tyranny.

My first Memorial Day at a National Cemetery was at the Dayton VAMC, ten years ago. I didn’t know there was a National Cemetery at the Dayton VAMC, nor did I know that this was the 3rd oldest VA in the country, serving civil war soldiers, soldiers addressed by President Abraham Lincoln!

2018 Memorial Day, a windy, rainy day, I am at the Sarasota National Cemetery, with a moment of silence at 3:00 pm. I am again reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s words:

“With malice toward none, with charity toward all…let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and for his orphan, and to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves and with all nations”.

And to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves.

Claude Anshin Thomas, a Vietnam Vet, who wrote the book, “At Hell’s Gate: A Soldier’s Journey from War to Peace”, asks us to consider – “We all have our own Vietnam’s” … as he describes the violence in the home he grew up with, describing his father, a WWII Vet. My uncle served in WWII, injured in the Battle of the Bulge, and captured as a POW. He was interrogated as a German spy (his last name was German) and threatened execution daily. A week later, he was spared execution and transferred to a POW Camp. He was among the first to be liberated at the end of WWII. My father was a High School Senior when receiving word that his oldest brother was MIA. My father joined the Merchant Marines and left for Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York, the day after graduation. He was at sea when he received word that his brother was POW, and soon after, the war ended. No one talked about it – understandably as there are no words.

How many similar stories? How many children were born into homes where the sacred stories of trauma have been trapped in the bodies of these soldier for years. How many fathers were triggered when their young sons in high school, were being drafted into the Vietnam War? Now we are a culture with a huge gaping wound, a collective trauma, with adult children of Vietnam Vets who grew up in homes with alcoholism, drug addiction, and angry fathers.

Let us be reminded of Lincoln’s words. One of the Pillars of Trauma Recovery is Bearing Witness, holding safe space for the sacred stories of trauma, shepherding individuals and communities through trauma recovery, discovering The Peace that is waiting.

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