Old graves to decorate
Many towns in the United States claim they invented Memorial Day after the horrible Civil War, from which the country has never recovered, I’d say. All over the nation, graves were growing uncared for and many people thought that was shameful. Within 30 years the government made Decoration Day into a national holiday. It was placed at the end of May when flowers are in bloom everywhere.
Roughly 2% of the U.S. population, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives in the line of duty during the Civil War. Taken as a percentage of today’s population, the toll would have risen as high as six million people.
There are many people to remember on Memorial Day. It is hard to get a hold on just how many there are!
Most record keepers suggest that about 75 million people worldwide died in World War 2, including about 20 million military personnel and 40 million civilians. Many civilians died because of deliberate genocide, massacres, mass-bombings, disease, and starvation.
America has been in 19 known wars since World War 2. But just remember the death toll from three of the bloodiest conflicts: The Korean War, The Vietnam War, and the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The total death toll of people killed by American troops in all these wars put together is over 12 million.
Our war weapons are used on our own own citizens, too.
This week last year, the sad facts of Memorial Day were heightened when we heard about 18 year old Pedro Ramos, who shot his grandmother in the face after they argued over how he did not graduate from high school. He then took his two legally purchased AR-15 automatic weapons to Robb Elementary and shot 36 people, mostly children in two adjoining classrooms, killing 21.
You probably don’t remember the details. There is a year-full of subsequent shootings. As of the end of April this year, in just four months, there have been 185 mass shootings in the U.S. (using the definition of 4 or more people shot in one incident). 254 people died. 708 were wounded. Untold numbers were traumatized.
I often say, “How could someone do that?” But there are many terrible reasons. They are not all personal. Pedro Ramos lived in a country in which leaders of his state tenaciously protected his freedom to buy an automatic weapon in the name of freedom. He lived in a country which is committed to spending, if I calculated the unfathomable right, about $26,000 a second in 2023 to maintain by far the largest military in the world to protect Pedro Ramos’ freedom. You can do your own moral math about that and watch the country refight the civil war on the “news.”
New victims to memorialize
I want to spend my Memorial Day tears on placing symbolic flowers on the graves of
people killed in Uvalde on May 24, 2022. I know the survivors are more overwhelmed by their losses than I can imagine, even a year later. But I can imagine a lot.
Lord, I pause the fun at the lake.
I dare to look at my lively grandkids.
I force myself to look at the numbers,
at the evil statistics too horrible to know.
I will ask for forgiveness later.
But first I examine the sin, the heartbreak,
the wounds reopened every second
with every dollar spent on power,
spent on the mistaken notion the right to kill
makes Pedro Ramos free, like he must have thought.
Ten year old Nevaeh Bravo.
Her name was heaven spelled backward.
Nine year old Jacklyn Cazares.
Her first communion picture was offered to the press.
Ten year old Makenna Elrod.
Four sisters and three brothers will never forget.
Ten year old Manuel Flores.
His mother said, “He was very good with babies.”
Irma Garcia had taught at Robb for 23 years.
Two days after her death her husband died of heart failure.
Their children were told mom was seen shielding her students.
Ten year old Maile Rodriguez.
She died helping others to safely hide.
There are more Lord. Always more.
We are overwhelmed with more.
You bear the overwhelming sins of the world.
No amount of decoration on graves
will conceal the hideous truth.
Humanity chooses power over love,
even makes you a warrior God
instead of a suffering servant.
Can you forgive us who rarely forgive?
Can you save us who believe AR-15s save?