My dad was in the 5th Marine Regiment during World War II. He was a postman, but on the day when the American flags were planted on top of Mt. Suribachi in Japan everyone was on the ground in hand-to-hand combat. Later, my brother was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War, and while he waited for deployment, he served his country as a plane mechanic.
Both men were honest and good. Both loved their country. Both desired freedom. Like soldiers and civilians before and after them, they wanted to help secure life and liberty for all.
In the United States, Memorial Day honors all those who have died in service of their country. And for me, I commemorate their service with prayer for the men and women who gave their lives in war, and pray for the ideals they fought for. I honor the day by praying to defend freedom in every country throughout the world.
Defending freedom through prayer involves praying collectively for all those in the military, in and out of combat; praying that current conflicts will be resolved, that there be no more war or conflicts, and to spiritually understand that freedom is given by God equally to all. We can defend freedom in thought by beginning to understand that there is only one God, one Mind, and that this Mind has given each of His children the capacity to be free – to express freedom, and experience it. Freedom, rather than being something one gives to another, or something that is earned, is a quality reflected from God. It is within each of us, as God’s children – and in this way, freedom can be protected through prayer and can be won without war.
In The Christian Science Journal of May 1908 under the subtitle “War,” the founder of this paper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: “For many years I have prayed daily that there be no more war, no more barbarous slaughtering of our fellow-beings; prayed that all the peoples on earth and the islands of the sea have one God, one Mind; love God supremely, and love their neighbor as themselves.”
Our soldiers and governments, and all of us, can expect war to decrease in proportion as individuals increasingly turn to divine Mind, God, for guidance and realize our inherent freedom as offspring of this one Mind. Following the above statement Mrs. Eddy continues: “National disagreements can be, and should be, arbitrated wisely, fairly; and fully settled.” But, she adds, “It is unquestionable, however, that at this hour the armament of navies is necessary, for the purpose of preventing war and preserving peace among nations.”
Ultimately, in order to support a righteous government, our prayers need to move us toward constructive action. We have to not only pray to love our neighbor as ourselves, as Christ Jesus teaches, but to also show this love toward our neighbor – even in the midst of war, and in the case of my dad, even after war.
My dad never held any animosity toward the enemy he fought. Rather, through his study of Christian Science he grew to see each individual as God’s beloved child, worthy of freedom, reflecting freedom, and having the same God, or Mind, as Christ Jesus. This enabled him to be healed of the effects his war experiences had left on him, such as constant nightmares and fear, jaundice, and addiction to nicotine.
Our soldiers – past, present, and future – are actually God’s spiritual ideas, each reflecting God as divine Mind. And we can pray to affirm this. We can pray to know that each one has freedom to hear God guiding, leading, and protecting him or her – and to experience it. Having only one God unites men and countries. It brings us together for mutual advancement. It shows us that each one is God-created, worthy, and bestowed with inalienable rights. These rights are divine, and as we learn more about each one’s innate God-bestowed freedom, we’ll find our neighbors expressing their freedom just as much as we wish to express our freedom.
So, this Memorial Day let’s turn thought to one God, loving our neighbor as ourselves, and praying that the innate God-given quality of freedom be expressed and defended by all.