Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I wrote this for last memorial day:

The 20th Century dawned with unimaginable hope. The wars of unification were over; Italy had coalesced under the forces of King Victor Emmanuel II, and Germany soon followed suit. The wars of independence, which rocked four continents, were over. At home, reconstruction was fading into distant memory, joining the war of 1812 and the American Revolution in the foggy pages of history. The Spanish-American War was a success. Enlightenment ideals of peace and prosperity joined the euphoria of liberal Protestantism. The City of God was going to be built during this century.

For Europe, the façade of optimism came crashing down as the roaring teens, the supposed age of peace and prosperity, gave way to the sober reality of World War I, yet Americans viewed it as the next great adventure. Songs like Over There with the words,

Johnnie get your gun, get your gun, get your gun; Take it on the run, on the run, on the run; Hear them calling you and me; Every son of liberty. Hurry right away, no delay, go today; Make your daddy glad, to have had such a lad; Tell your sweetheart not to pine, To be proud her boy's in line.

betray the naiveté which pervaded American culture at the time, yet 40 million dead people has a way of sobering up a nation.

Despite this "setback" (which they promised themselves would never happen again, as this war was the War to End All Wars), the roaring times took off again in the 20s, that is until another meeting with the reality of evil took place.

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan...
Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island...
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

-Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1941

Americans were again called to arms to defend our nation and world from tyranny and unimaginable atrocities. The annals of history record the devastation and horrors which left Europe in a dazed stupor for a decade or more to come. No euphoria gripped the populaces of America or Europe afterwards. Sadly, they were right to be wary as this war, though unimaginable in the devastation wrought, was not the last of the 20th Century. The blood of brave men and women would continue to be spilled: Vietnam, Korea, Iraq.

And so, today, we honor the brave men and women who gave their lives and are giving their lives for our country. Too many have made this sacrifice; too many more live with the trauma they witnessed. We come to their graves, adorned with flags, flags which they fought to keep flying freely, and stand in shock at the rows upon rows of white markers, knowing this scene is repeated across the country, even across the Atlantic to the fields of Europe. Muted silence, muffled sobs, and the wafting of Taps give ear to the sight. Our senses remind us of a bitter reality,

peace lost in the 20th Century.

Though war might be inevitable to fallen mankind, pray today, and every day, that this world will know the peace that only God can give. Let the greatest tribute we give to our soldiers this Memorial Day be peace. Pray that the atrocities of the 20th Century are not repeated in this one; may the optimism of the early 20th Century finally be realized in the next. Pray that the words of Paul VI are finally heeded, "No more war, war never again."

Negatively, first: the words which you expect from Us and which We cannot pronounce without full awareness of their gravity and solemnity: Never one against the other, never, never again. Was it not principally for this purpose that the United Nations came into being: against war and for peace? Listen to the clear words of a great man, the late John Kennedy, who declared four years ago: "Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind." Long discourses are not necessary to proclaim the supreme goal of your institution. It is enough to remember that the blood of millions of men, numberless and unprecedented sufferings, useless slaughter and frightful ruin are the sanction of the covenant which unites you, in a solemn pledge which must change the future history of the world: No more war, war never again.

-Paul VI’s Address to the UN General Assembly 1965

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