As you may have noticed, I have a thing for words.
Where they come from. What they mean. How they change over time.
For example, the word celebrate.
It comes from the Latin for frequented or honored.
And, it’s changing, even in this moment!
If your email is anything like mine, you’ve already noticed! Noticed how we, in the USA, are celebrating sales on this long weekend, instead of (or perhaps more comfortably than) the notion of Memorial Day many of us grew up with.
(Before we go on, I’m going to own up to the reality that my right hand and left shoulder are engaged in battles of their own and typing is hard… so, a bit of cut and paste from folks who’ve already told these stories well!)
You may be surprised, as I was, that…
When Charleston fell and Confederate troops evacuated the badly damaged city, those freed from enslavement remained. One of the first things those emancipated men and women did was to give the fallen Union prisoners a proper burial. They exhumed the mass grave and reinterred the bodies in a new cemetery with a tall whitewashed fence inscribed with the words: “Martyrs of the Race Course.”
And the beginning of a letter, Friday, from my friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Set on a pastoral landscape at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Orange, Virginia, Montpelier, is among the country’s premier historic plantation sites. It was the home of James Madison, the so-called father of the U.S. Constitution and the nation’s fourth president. It was also “home” to 300 enslaved people during Madison’s time, and their descendants are now boldly asserting the right to tell their stories.
All of this… and more… in context of another school shooting. This one in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen elementary school students and two of their teachers, gone, needlessly.
Here’s the bottom line for me… war is a tragedy that involves weapons. In the best of times, a tragedy that results in more peace and justice for more people.
School should not be such a battlefield. And we must honor all our fallen by trying to fix the systems that permit ever-increasing gun violence.
The way forward is not NRA rallies on Memorial Day Weekend. It’s many, many more voices at the table. It’s common sense gun laws instead of the kind grudgingly tolerated by those getting rich off gun sales.
It’s teaching our children better. And doing everything we can to keep them alive long enough to understand.
Yes, I have, as the old saying goes, quit preachin’ and gone to meddlin’. And I’m not going to apologize.
The way that some of us think we’ve always done it isn’t working.
So, if this matters to you, click the links (above) and read more of the stories. Risk a bigger perspective.
Perhaps, at its heart, that’s the way to celebrate Memorial Day. To make space for more of the stories. Even the ones that don’t seem to get along so well.
If you live in Georgia… there’s a run-off election for the Democratic Nominee for Secretary of State on June 21. You know what to do.
In an episode of The West Wing, a top brass kind of walk-on character, named Adamley, said this to Leo McGarry:
All wars are crimes.
Yes. That’s hard for many of us to hear.
On this day, though, let’s choose, loudly, to truly honor those who have fallen throughout history – our ancestors and partners and neighbors and children – and all those who grieve, by voting for change. By working to end more tragic crimes.
What’s happening all around us isn’t working.
ps… season 3, episode 6!
pps… what if you could adopt an intentional image of What the World Needs Now , literally formed of dots for peace??? You can! An original painting… at a special discount, meant to call in powerful new energy. The elves will hook you right up. Just add her to your basket and the numbers will get smaller! (There’s only one!!!)