We call it Remembrance Day, and we remember. I think back to 1968, when I was drafted for Vietnam. I received a four-year student deferment, and I was a CO, so in the end I went to Zimbabwe doing a three year term of alternative service with our church instead of going to Vietnam. Of course, others drafted with me whose number in the draft lottery fell below about 130 (mine was 113) went to Vietnam.
I think back to to another war, Desert Storm. Lois and I had just returned from Zimbabwe to find talk of war everywhere. In Zimbabwe nobody was talking about invading Iraq. In Europe on the way back nobody was talking about invading Iraq. In the USA that's all we were talking about. It was like entering an parallel universe. Or coming from one.
I think of the present military actions (may we call them "wars" now) -- in Iraq and in Afghanistan, with the horrible shooting on an American military base. A counsellor who needed counselling and who acted out our worst fears, the enemy within.
I rarely wear a poppy -- more a matter of not thinking to put it on, or not thinking to put on MCC's alternative poppy. My poppyless state is less a statement than a lack of care about dress. But today many wear the poppy, not to remember war, but to remember those who fight. We all (or almost all) pray for peace. We all (or almost all) recognize that war comes when what we want fails. "War is hell": so said a soldier.
So we remember together. Our own brushes with war, and with all the other forms of violence in our world -- whether against children, or abused women, or through oppression and poverty. The acts of war and violence that plague or planet, the disease of our race: people made in God's image, fighting and destroying the image of the Creator.
As we remember war, we remember and pray also for peace. We work for peace. We want the Shalom of God's presence, life full and running over in place of hatred and death and separation. I wish God's blessing on all who work for peace in our world, whether sharing my convictions as a CO or somewhere around the world with the American or Canadian military -- or in the many armies of our world. God keep and guide us all.