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Memorial Day Tribute

To our brothers and sisters who have given their all in the service of God and country, we honor your sacrifice and memory.
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Discussions - 8 Comments

The US Armed Forces are not God's Army, Justin.

I guess your blog-post tribute does NOT go out to Pat Tillman (although he was a handy prop for regressives for a time) and all of these people??

How do you know that the US Armed Forces are not God's Army, Craig?

Aside from the spiritual question, I know that for the Marines, the oath of office is this: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely; and without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter; So help me God."

My son in the Navy also ended his oath with, "So help me God". I don't have that oath near to hand. I grant you this, he tells me in recent years the chaplaincy has been made useless since the chaplains are not allowed to express any faith preference, much less evangelize. And yet, even if religion is an offense in today's military, it was not historically. Memorial Day is about remembering, not just about now. I celebrate the day in a cemetery with crosses on the graves. How about you?

You hate America.

Thank you, Justin, for this fitting tribute. At the time of the American Revolution, General George Washington had the men hire chaplains and attend religious services to instill virtue and morality in his Continental Army. Young men went to war, prodded on by ministers who preached the idea of natural rights and Lockean social compact theory from the pulpit, telling the young men that it was their duty to defend their God-given rights against a tyrannical government that violated them. So, you are right in honoring them for their service to God and country, for our soldiers defend the liberty and natural rights of the exceptional American people granted to them by God and are not merely a bunch of atheists defending the boundaries of some modern nation-state.

It begins in forming young men in the Cub and Boy Scouts: "I, (say your name), promise
To do my DUTY to GOD
And my Country
To HELP other people, and
To OBEY the LAW of the Pack."

He doesn't hate America. He hates himself.

I celebrate the day in a cemetery with crosses on the graves. How about you?

I've got some atheist and Jewish friends in the military who might argue that you're missing a lot of great soldiers in your tribute, Kate.

If someone is in the military to simply protect their modern nation-state, without any creed to a god, do they really deserve less than the veneration you show to god-fearing soldiers? Don't they, perhaps, even have more to lose in offering their lives for our country (after all, if they don't believe in an afterlife, isn't this current one all the most valuable?).

There's no real reason to get into a debate about this now, but I do think it is pretty arrogant to limit your appreciation to those members of the military who agree with your own particular religious views. Secular soldiers are just as effective and honorable as religious soldiers. Maybe you just haven't had the opportunity (dare I say honor) to meet some of them.

And any service member who wishes to affirm, rather than swear, their oath of allegiance to the United States can do so (and have done so) without the text "so help me god" at the end of the oath. No big deal.

No, Matt. I thank God for those guys, too, and do know some of them as friends of my sons. As far as I know, they and your atheists have got an afterlife, whether they believe in it or not. I pray for grace for them.

The point of that line of mine that you quote is that Memorial Day is about prayers of remembrance for the dead. The history of the day is one of prayers for the dead in cemeteries and dates from the Civil War. On Memorial Day, every ceremony I have attended has ended up in a cemetery and is full of prayers. Are there separate ceremonies for atheists, Jews, Muslims and others? I didn't know. Nor do I know why any Jew would not say, "So help me God". My friends would. Muslims I know would, as well.

As to the oath, I showed the "affirm" in parentheses when I copied it. At the three ceremonies I attended of Marine and Navy enlisted, as well as of Marine officers, if anyone did not say "So help me God." at the end, it wasn't with a noticeable vocal diminution from the group. I am not saying there aren't people who don't say it. I am questioning how many don't.

As an aside from the main point, did you ever read C.S. Lewis' "Last Battle"? At the end of all things in the world he creates for that book there is a soldier who did not believe in the Christ of that world, rather, following a false god. He enters the heaven of that world. Lewis suggests that grace follows us after death, so that intention counts in our favor and people might know God for who he is after their flesh is dead. I always hope he's right. Anyway, what happens to anyone after death isn't my decision.

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