Today we honor members of our military who died in foreign wars. It is in going deep within ourselves -- opening our hearts and minds to the true horror of war, and to the suffering of those who lost their lives to it -- that we show the deepest respect to our fallen military. Bearing witness to the agony of others, according to Mahatma Gandhi, carries soulforce. It not only comforts them; it changes us.
The greatest honor we can show to those who died in war is to commit ourselves to creating a world at peace. Let us pray for all those who died on foreign battlefields, and atone in our hearts for the wars in which our soldiers should never have been there to begin with. Let us commit ourselves to taking care of the veterans in our midst, and address the travesty of what is often their inadequate care. In Los Angeles alone, there are 8,000 homeless veterans largely neglected by the system they fought to preserve. Across the country, our veterans commit suicide at the rate of almost one an hour. Above all, let us not look away from the human suffering that makes war humanity’s greatest scourge, even now.
The following paragraph is engraved on the wall of the Franklin Roosevelt memorial in Washington DC. The President who led America during WW2 said these words:
“I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen 200 limping, exhausted men come out of line—the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 that went forward 48 hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.”
If I have the privilege of becoming the next Congressperson from CA. District 33, one of my first acts will be to sign on to Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s (CA-D) Department of Peacebuilding Bill, H.R. 808. The department would be "dedicated to peacebuilding, peacemaking, and the study and promotion of conditions conducive to both domestic and international peace and a culture of peace."
Referencing the bill, Congresswoman Lee said, "On our streets and across the globe, the pervasive presence of violence has infected the lives of millions, and it is far past time we address it as a nation.”
I agree with her wholeheartedly. When former Congressman Dennis Kucinich first introduced such a bill in 2001, I founded a grass roots campaign to support it. If elected, I will lend my power in whatever way possible to its becoming law. In order to lead our nation into a secure 21st Century, we must learn to strategize peace as effectively as we strategize war.
Let us bring our internal as well as external powers to bear on the effort. This Memorial Day, let us more than remember what already happened; let us envision what we want to have happen now, and step into that vision with boldness and purpose. Let us create a world where the only pictures we see of war are on the walls of museums and memorials recording a phenomenon that used to be, but is no more.