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I recognize that this post is a departure from the subject of my blog; however, it is the best medium I have to present a message that is important to me. I hope you will indulge me, even though this may be the most controversial post I make.

Originally, I wanted to post a video relating to Memorial Day, but I soon discovered that I could not find anything that adequately said what was in my heart this weekend. So I am taking this opportunity to present my feelings about Memorial Day and what I believe should be our attitude toward it.

First of all, war should never be glorified. War is not about sentimental videos, stirring songs, or parades. Under the best of circumstances, war involves incredible horrors on which it is perhaps best not to dwell.

Nor should we idolize those who participate in war. Not all soldiers are heroes. Since they are drawn from our society, they reflect all the aspects of that society. Some serve out of truly noble intentions, while there are some (hopefully few) who actually enjoy the idea of combat. My experience is that the vast majority of soldiers are ordinary men and women who sometimes find themselves in extraordinary circumstances and respond as best they can.

We should also recognize that by the very nature of things soldiers are not allowed to question all the intricacies surrounding what they are ordered to do. While this may sound as if I am advocating moral relativism, nothing could be further from the truth. I hope you who know me understand that. Soldiers cannot be Monday morning quarterbacks. They do not have the luxury of evaluating every nuance of circumstances. To do so would result in disaster—for them and for our nation.

Most of all, I would ask that we all be careful about the judgments we make. If you have never been placed in a situation in which no action appears to be right, then please consider carefully before condemning those who are required to make those seemingly impossible choices, choices which may remain with them for the rest of their lives.

Finally, a personal note. I served in Vietnam from March 1969 to March 1970. My “welcome home” was in the Port Authority bus terminal @ 2:00 am, March 21, 1970. I was in uniform of course and waiting for a bus to take me to New Jersey. A hippie walked up and immediately began to tell me what he thought of me in language I could not repeat here. A New York policeman made him leave, but the impression was made. I was to discover that most companies would not sell me auto insurance because my service in the military made me “unreliable.”

Thankfully, our soldiers today are not being treated this way. For that I am thankful. I hope that we can save our criticisms for the politicians who make policy, not the military who are sworn to carry it out.

Most of all, in the midst of the barbeques and family reunions, let us pause for a moment to remember those who gave their lives. Sacrifice is worthy of being honored, and throughout the years America has had no shortage of men and women who have made that ultimate sacrifice.

And the best way to honor that sacrifice would be to work for a world in which there was no word for war. We do not live in that world, and it would be naïve to pretend we do. Given human nature, we probably never will live in that world. At the same time, we should strive for nothing less. I suspect every one of America’s fallen would agree with that goal.

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Daniel B. Wallace

Executive Director of CSNTM & Senior Research Professor of NT Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary

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