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Memorial Day 2006: War & humankind

| Monday, May 29, 2006

On Memorial Day, it is insisted that editorialists honor Americans who have died in our nation's wars.

Why• For surely the dead seek no accolades, no parades and no salutes. They have left this world behind. They certainly know better than we, if they know anything at all, the purpose of their deaths and the consequences for the nation in whose name they perished.

Mourning is about the living. Without the natural process for achieving acceptance of loss, we would surely go mad.

But on Memorial Day -- that is for the diminishing portion of Americans who honor our war dead -- we dredge up the sorrow year after year.

In some way, we think it incumbent on ourselves to be grateful -- even to those who are gone more than two centuries and whose names are lost to history.

History's chief cruelty, and its chief source of hope, is that it does not end. We add by the month to the toll of those who gave their last measure of devotion and dearly hope that each of them will be the last.

Today we are not so blessed. For Memorial Day reminds us that our only respite from adding to the roll of our honored dead is a tomorrow whose date is not yet written.

So we mourn not exclusively for the brave men and women who have passed through war into eternity but for those who will.

Above all, we grieve for humankind, which has not yet washed its hands of war.

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