After attending the memorial service for a friend, who was a Korean War veteran, although we did not know that before this service, we went the long way home running into town to see visit the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall in the parking lot at the Illinois Centre Mall.
Although neither Gerald nor I lost a relative or close friend in Viet Nam, to see the long list of names of those who died so young is a sad and thought-provoking experience. Just names on a black wall.
Young (to us) veterans were busy starting to dismantle the wall and move it to its next destination. I wondered where it had been prior to Marion and where it will go next and how many tears it evokes for those who stand and remember a life cut short. A life they still long for.
Because of a particular young father at the church memorial service, the phrase “All My Sons” first flashed thought my mind. I knew he was able to include others besides his own son in his circle of love and concern. At the War Memorial, I realized anew that these fallen soldiers are indeed all our sons. They needed more time to finish their lives and to accomplish all they might have accomplished. They are all our sons, and we grieve their loss.
Arthur Miller said that about American sons, but he did not say that about the enemies’ sons. He probably did not feel that way when he wrote the play in 1947. He expressed his pain that business men could put profit ahead of the lives of American soldiers. And yet. And yet. We read of elderly veterans who meet and forgive the ones they fought against. We know the loved ones on both sides of a conflict surely feel much the same grief. And if they don’t, we experience both horror and sorrow that they might find it a cause of rejoicing that a son or daughter died in a suicide bombing.believing it would secure a place in paradise.
War muddles things beyond understanding. Here in our country, we had to find ways to get over a war that tore families apart with one son fighting for the North and one for the South. I have a difficult time when I think of those who fought for the Confederacy, and yet as I read a little this week about the Union’s109th and knew their leaders were horrified at the unneeded destruction of the lives and livelihood of those whose only fault was the state they lived in, I had to admit to sharing their sentiments.. .War brings out the worst in some of us as well as the finest in others of us. And war demands things of humans that forever haunt them.
My great great great great grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War. I am very glad I am not subject to the British king. Yet I cannot feel pride because I know he was among those who burned Cherokee villages. I have never been able to write those words before. And I think I understand why the colonists thought they needed to do this to the friends of the British. But I am so ashamed. I suspect my great great great great grandfather suffered immensely for what he was asked to do as a young man trying to protect his family. War muddles things.
I came home to read Miller’s play again. Cried that we humans cannot find better ways to get along And prayed for peace. And for the young grandson at the memorial service in uniform. And for all our sons. And remembering the words of Jesus, for their sons too.
Causes Sue Glasco Supports