My father, Stanley Wiener, was a naval officer during World War II and a writer in the later years of his life. He was also a very active member of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. He knew the horror and tragedy and wasted young lives brought about by war. Sometimes war cannot be avoided, but it is never something to be glorified; that must be reserved for peace. This is a short essay he penned for Memorial Day in 1985, which was published in several newspapers:
Memorial Day – how it has changed. I can remember the rich pomp and ceremony which surrounded this day when I was but a boy.
Literally, whenever there were two or more veterans, there would be a lavish parade, meaningful graveside services and solemn church ceremonies. No one ever questioned the importance of the day. It was as if no person dared to ignore the fallen brethren. Flags identified each G.I. grave.
Today, there are fewer parades to watch. At least, what few are still seen can be seen in person or on TV. Veteran Posts try hard to muster the hardier for assemblies at graveside ceremonies. The clergy still speak in reverence of those who died heroically in uniform; they eulogize those who were hardly more than boys when they died. In most cemeteries, the same small flags wave majestically to identify each G.I. grave.
Memorial Day is most revered by those who served and live on. It cannot be forgotten by others whose loved ones did not live during combat.
We have to wonder, in spite of the horror of all war, why some leaders of men may still want to have wars and killings; so many continued to be insensitive to the killing of the nation’s youth.
All past generations of mankind have justified war and ennobled killing with a thousand excuses. Would that this generation cease such mayhem with but one reason — with but common sense.
This year, as we pay homage to our fallen comrades at gravesides throughout the country, may all humanity, once and for all times, not lust for blood; may this world tire of all the blood that has been shed in vain.
Let every person join the prayers of our Gold Star Mothers who plead that no nation shall ever again lift up sword against another nation.
Memorial Day is a day of repentance, soul searching, dedication to a way of peace and a return to God. May the leaders of mankind join in our prayers and lead us to peace now and forever.