PRAYER FOR MEMORIAL DAY

MAY 2000
R.M. FEWKES


The poet, Archibald MacLeish, writes,"The young dead soldiers, do not speak. Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses….They say: our deaths are not ours; they are yours; they will mean what you make them. They say: whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say; it is you who must say this. They say: we leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning."

O God of Life and of History, we gather on this occasion for sacred remembrance and a renewal of the spirit. We remember with a sense of gratitude and humility the thousands upon thousands who have died in this nation’s wars and conflicts. We come to renew our resolution to make of their deaths a meaning that shall be for peace and justice and the birth of a new hope in the earth. Help us to give their deaths such a meaning by recalling that they died to give birth to a new nation, to preserve the union from internal disillusion and the evil of slavery, and to save a free and democratic way of life. We are truly the benefactors of what others have sacrificed on our behalf.

May we remember this day the dead not only of our nation’s wars, but also of all wars in all lands where men, women and children have lost their lives to the harsh and bitter cruelty of human combat. In our remembrance may we not be puffed up with the overbearing pride of a false and narrow patriotism, but rather may we be endued with a generous patriotism that reaches out to the human family on every continent and shore. May we come to love the earth and thy universal kingdom of love and justice with a zeal equal to and surpassing our love of country. Make us more compassionate, loving and forgiving as we call to mind the tragic deaths wrought by so many wars in so many lands that our hearts cannot contain them for fear of breaking.

Remember, in thy mercy, O God, our war dead, and the war dead of all peoples in all nations, wheresoever they reside. May the day come upon the earth when no more war dead need any longer be added to the rolls of those recollected in the living memory of the people. May that day come with the blessings of life abundant for all thy children under the sun. Only then shall we truly be able to say that we have given to the deaths of our brave young soldiers and sailors, airmen and marines, the meaning they cry out for.
Shalom, pacem, om shanti. Let peace come in a thousand tongues and a myriad of languages. May we renew ourselves in that life-long quest for the impossible dream of thy kingdom come on earth as it is in the heaven of our dearest wishes, fondest hopes and heartfelt prayers. So be it. Amen.

BENEDICTION

May the truth that makes us free, the hope that never dies, and the love that casts out fear, lead us forward together, till the dayspring breaks and the shadows flee away. The peace of God that passes all understanding, that peace which the world can neither give nor take away, abide with you to bless you, this day, and even forever more. Amen.