Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I'll never forget the day I realized that not everyone agreed with me. I was older than I should've been to noticed something that simple, but it makes sense that it would occur when I left the comfort of my very Mennonite hometown and moved south of the Mason Dixon Line. There was culture shock when I moved to Kentucky and, while I live in a more Liberal part of the state, it's still a very red Kentucky.

I've opened my mind to many things in the years that I have lived here and many stereotypes I used to have have been banished.

One such turning point was meeting my friend Jamie's brother, Joe. We drove to the back of their farm to get part of a giant tree that had fallen. Joe drove, Roy and I sat in the cab, and 3 or 4 people sat in the bed of the truck. Joe, bourbon in hand, drove the whole way laughing hysterically and driving very erratically, trying to get the people in the bed to fall out of the truck. They attached the log (tree) to the truck and drove back to Joe's house where the joke "how many rednecks does it take to put a log on the fire?" was literally tested. That was the first meeting and there were many subsequent ones where I found Joe to be a kind, generous soul.

Someone with a confederate flag bumpersticker on the back of his truck. Accompanying were the words, "Heritage, not hate."

I'm not a proponent of the Confederate Flag. I understand that its meaning has changed for a large segment of our population and that the hurt it causes is deep and painful. But it also showed me that issues are not always simple and clear.

Kentucky is home to a large military base, Fort Campbell. It's not uncommon to hear reports about the 101st Airborne on CNN and in the local papers are names - often - of soldiers lost in combat. This is one area where my beliefs have not been altered; where in fact they have been strengthened. In the runup to the war in Iraq, I'll never forget my Grandma saying to me, "you know... we've been fighting a long, long time. You would think that if war actually created peace, we'd be done by now."

I was looking for a piece of literature to post today, thinking about all of the antiwar literature written by the great Mark Twain, the outstanding and pointant works of Kurt Vonnegut. But I found it on a blog I read often. Thanks, Urban Mennonite.

On this Memorial Day, I honor the fallen with a prayer for peace.

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