This weekend, we stop to remember that there are lives that must be honored. There are also lives that have been dramatically altered. The courses of lives have been dramatically reshaped, by both the physical and psychological wounding that come with war. These people warrant our ongoing care. I find myself haunted by a poem that was written over sixty years ago at the conclusion of WWII by the poet and playwright Archibald MacLeish. During WWII, MacLeish served as the Librarian of Congress. When the War ended, the Library of Congress staff wanted to hold a Memorial Service for its staff members who had gone off to fight and had not returned. MacLeish, whose identity as a writer, poet, and man of letters were already been well established, was asked to write it. He was in his early fifties and had been an artillery officer in the First World War, so he knew about combat and battlefield deaths. The poem MacLeish wrote was called The Young Dead Soldiers. These are some of its lines:
We were young. We have died. Remember us.
We have given our lives, but until it is finished no one can know what our lives gave.
Our deaths are not ours; they are yours; they will mean what you make them.
Whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope or for nothing, we cannot say; it is you who must say this.
We leave you to our deaths. Give them meaning.
We were young. We have died. Remember us
For lives lost in previous and ongoing wars, may they rest in peace. For those of us who are still granted the gift of life, may we be bearers of peace.-- Pastor Matt Braddock