Catholic Democrat

Location: Oklahoma

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day

The readings for Monday, Memorial Day, May 29, 2006 is: Acts 19:1-8; Psalm 68:2-7, and John 16:29-33. And John’s Gospel reads as follows:

Then Jesus' disciples said, "Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God."

"You believe at last!" Jesus answered. "But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

While in Mass today they announced that my church would have a Memorial Day mass tomorrow at 9 AM. I don’t ever remember going to a Memorial Day mass. Somehow this year it seems very appropriate. Both my father and father-in-law have passed away. Both were men who had served this country in the military during World War II. My father was in the Navy, and my father-in-law was in the Army. I never heard if my father earned any medals because, like most men who served in World War II, he did not talk about it very much. My father-in-law, however, earned both a purple heart and a bronze star with clusters. My father-in-law was a lead scout for a tank brigade in the Philippines and he was hit with a hand grenade.
My father-in-law had a big bump on his left under his left forearm. Fifty years after the war, my father-in-law asked that the Veterans Hospital remove the bump. The hospital found another piece of shrapnel from the hand grenade in the bump. Apparently his body had formed a large blood clot to protect his body from the lead poisoning. Needless to say he kept the shrapnel in a cup, and showed it to everyone saying “Made in Japan.”

From what I have read, minorities were never treated well in the Navy, and maybe that is why my father never spoke about his time in the Navy. The closest thing to telling me about his time in the Navy was when he drove me to California to attend Seminary. I had already spent four years in Massachusetts, and he was somewhat incredulous that I was considering another period of time in school away from home. Finally, when we were alone, he asked me “Don’t you ever get lonely?” I was surprised by his question and told that of course I get lonely at times, but that I just tried not to think about it. He responded that when he was in the Navy he used to get very lonely. Then he repeated it with tears in his eyes as he remembered his feelings. His lips seemed to shudder as he said, “I was soo, lonely!” It really jolted me. My father was not a man who wore his feelings on his sleeve. Like most Mexican-Americans, there was an idea that men had to be “macho.”

His sentiment stayed with me at seminary, and as a result I became very lonely. After my first year, I left became engaged, got married, and never returned to seminary again.
This memorial day I think about my two fathers. I miss them so much.

I also think about all the men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. I feel that Afghanistan was justified. We should be doing everything we can to get Osama Bin Laden. He was the mastermind, we understand, who attacked the Twin Towers. Somehow, however, our President has sent us on a wild goose chase in Iraq. I feel that we went into that war under false pretense, and now we are stuck there. I feel we are wasting American lives for the whims for what is essentially corporate greed.

May God have mercy on the families who have lost loved ones to this war, and may God help us to find a way out.