Yesterday I was talking with a couple of friends at church about Memorial Day. Not surprisingly the conversation was not about picnics but about the memorials our nation has built to honor those who died in our wars. What I found a bit surprising was the interest that both of these men had in the way our country has honored the women who served in our armed forces. In one case, that of the women who flew airplanes during World War II from the factory to the air bases, the honoring took a while in coming.
Honoring those who served and died has not always been an easy matter. In the years after the Civil War some communities that sent men to serve on both sides were involved in fights over which war dead they should honor. After Viet Nam many of those who had supported the war and of those who opposed it failed to welcome back those who had served with the gratitude and honor they deserved.
There are lessons to be learned from our nation's less than perfect history. Perhaps the most important one on this Memorial Day is that those who serve, even in wars that we oppose or wars that end in defeat, are owed our thanks.