[pjw] A veteran writes about Memorial Day (Voices for Creative Nonviolence 5/27)
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Mon May 27 14:26:07 EDT 2019
We held Peace and Justice Fairs in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1999
on Memorial Day to remember those who died in war by working toward a
world without war. Then 9/11 happened and we've been in perpetual war ever
Below is an essay forwarded by our friends at Voices for Creative
Nonviolence. There are some mildly harsh words which aren't all fully
spelled out and which aren't for everyone's tastes but I think the overall
sentiment by this veteran are important to share.
peace and justice works
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 27 May 2019 10:26:09
From: Voices for Creative Nonviolence <info at vcnv.org>
Subject: Memorial Day - Francis Pauc
Frank Pauc is a longtime Voices friend and supporter: his website is
May 26th, 2019
The sun came out today. It's been gone for a while. That means all of the
lawnmowers came out too. It's been soggy around here, and any chance for a
fellow suburbanite to cut the grass is taken up immediately. It's loud
outside. It sounds like the humming of dozens of gasoline-powered bees. I
mowed the front yard yesterday, and that was enough for now. The backyard
will probably be a swamp until July. It's best that I leave it alone.
Today is Sunday, so it's not actually Memorial Day yet. But it feels like
it. I can see the American flags popping up all over the place. I have
read the ads in the paper for the Memorial Day Weekend sales. There is
that noxious faux patriotism that infects everything, at least for the
next couple days. It doesn't matter. By Tuesday, nobody will give a f*
about the soldiers who died defending this country. By Tuesday, nobody
will remember the veterans who are crippled and maimed. By Tuesday, people
will pretend that we are not a country at war.
That's just how it is in America.
I walked to church this morning. It's seven miles from our house to St.
Rita Parish. I enjoyed the walk. I was alone, and I could listen to the
birds, and I could examine the flowers of a belated Wisconsin spring. It
took a little over two hours for me to walk to Mass. I am very grateful
for those two hours.
I got to our church, and I spoke to one of our ushers (greeters). Dan
shook my hand and said, "Happy Memorial Day!" He knew that I was a vet. I
thought for a moment, and then I told Dan,
"You know, Dan, my son, Hans, sometimes tells me that he doesn't like it
when people say 'Happy Memorial Day!' It's not a happy day. It's a day to
mourn, a day to remember. Hans has told me that he prefers when people
say, 'Have a good Memorial Day.' That seems to work better."
Dan considered that, and said, "Yeah, I think I will try that in the
I served as lector at Mass this morning. That means that I read from the
Scriptures in front of the assembled believers. It also means that I read
the "Prayers of the Faithful," the combined petitions of our Catholic
community. That part was difficult, very difficult.
Being that it is a national holiday, there were several prayers concerning
soldiers, dead or living. Keep in mind that I have skin in the game. I am
a veteran, although (through the mercy of God) not a combat vet. Our
oldest son, Hans, is a combat vet. He fought in Iraq, and he came back
here all screwed up.One of the communal prayers said, "We pray for all
veterans, that they may be healed of any physical and mental wounds."
Since I was at the microphone, I added "and any spiritual wounds," because
all of these bastards have spiritual wounds. Every one of them.
The next prayer was for the end of wars. That's where I nearly lost it. I
had not planned on it. It just happened.
I prayed, "Let us pray for the end of ALL WARS!" I damn near screamed that
out. The congregation yelled back to me, "LORD, hear out prayer!" I had to
pause for a bit. My mind reeled, and my chest heaved. Even now, I feel
overwhelmed. I just wanted to cry. I kept going, somehow. I cried later.
In a way, it's too hard. I can't stop all the violence. I can't.
I do what little I can do. That has to be enough.
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