Thursday, June 9, 2011

Post-Memorial Day Post

In my last post, I mentioned the fact that my family always takes me to a Memorial Day ceremony at Ft. Custer National Cemetery where my grandparents are buried. Unfortunately, this ceremony always has it's share of religiosity, no doubt to comfort those who choose faith as a method of coping with the loss of their loved ones.

This year, one portion of the ceremony irked me more than usual. There was a long line of speakers, two of whom were politicians, though I can't remember their names. The first stood up and not only called upon God to bless families torn apart by war, but dared assert that the soldiers fighting overseas were fighting for the Judeo-Christian values that all Americans share.

I could rant for three pages about what an awful statement this actually was, but I think I'll let several pictures I took at the cemetery make the argument for me.


This is the grave of a Protestant Christian who served in the US Military.


This is the grave of a Lutheran who served in the US Military.


This is the grave of a Mormon who served in the US Military.


This is the grave of a United Methodist who served in the US Military.


This is the grave of a Russian Orthodox Christian who served in the US Military.


This is the grave of a Muslim who served in the US Military.


This soldier had no specified religion.

I wasn't there long enough to photograph anymore, but the National Cemetery Administration has a complete list of faith symbols used on their grave markers available here:
http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/hm/hmemb.asp

There are some groups here that I had never even heard of before. This alone shows that the United States is anything but a "Judeo-Christian nation". Certainly, the majority of people here subscribe to some form of Christianity, but there are many who do not. In essence, the "values" that our senator spoke of our soldiers dying for (freedom, justice, etc) are ideals that transcend religion. By attaching these values to a specific religion, this man was rhetorically slapping a good number of non-christian veterans in the face.

Besides, values like justice and personal freedom are not biblical values. They are enlightenment values. The United States government was created to be secular for that reason. Much of the injustice, even in the North American colonies, was a direct product of religion and its adherents. By building a nation on the values that many shared regardless of religion, the ever-famous "Founding Fathers" created a heterogeneous haven for people of all faiths.

In the end, we need to get over ourselves and walk a few miles in the shoes of the "other guy". You may find that that other guy shares more with you than you're prepared to accept.

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