Message on Memorial Day 2016

This Memorial Day we Americans remember and honor those who died while serving in our nation’s military. I remember the dignified transfer ceremonies for the young dead soldiers I helped enact while serving as an Army chaplain in Afghanistan. I also remember my duties stateside, such as the night I knocked on the door of some unsuspecting mother and held her as the casualty notification officer reported her son had just killed himself.

I honor these American dead, both those who died in combat, those who died by suicide, and those, like First Lieutenant Louis Allen and Captain Phil Esposito, who were killed by another U.S. soldier. Holding this moral pain and grief is part of our responsibility as Americans who send our sons and daughters to kill and die.

As people of faith, Memorial Day presents to us an opportunity for something more, something the German theologian Geiko Muller Fahrenholz calls “deep remembering.”  He writes, “selective remembering is a way of rereading history that looks at national victories without counting the damage done to others, that is, without contemplating the guilt involved.” Deep remembering, he writes, “is grateful for genuine greatness, but it does not shun guilt and suppression. It rejoices in human inventiveness and ingenuity, but it also shares in the many forms of suffering. Deep remembering is about transforming the art of the possible.”

This Memorial Day Sunday the local interfaith council where I serve as vice-president, together with our local chapter of Veteran’s for Peace, is holding a “Service of Lamentation and Hope.” I invite you to join me at this service and move together in community towards deep remembering. We will remember and honor those who died while serving in our nation’s military. We will also remember and honor the damage done to others, particularly innocent women and children in war-zones. Through such deep remembering we grow in empathy and build capacity for constructive non-violent action in the world.


Sunday, May 29, 2016
3:00 pm
The Chapel on Temple Hill at the New Windsor Cantonment
374 Temple Hill Rd, New Windsor, NY 12553