It’s Memorial Day in the USA.  Many people have hung flags with pride and celebrated soldiers like saints.

I’m different. I’ve been humming a non-patriotic song..   Every day I remember the sin and horror of war and cry out to God for forgiveness and conversion.  Today is no different. I pray in thanksgiving for the non-violence of the cross and remember the many non-violent, civil-disobedient martyrs who have helped me know the real peace of Christ.  Like the non-patriotic song says, Jesus Christ is the only thing that freedom means to me!

“Anthem” by Five Iron Frenzy

A nation stands with heart in hand

To sing their anthem proudly

Voices raised to sing their praise

Of their hollow country

All this talk of freedom

And some talk of liberty

From your plastic podium

You try and convince me

I can’t fall anymore

For some silver-tongued song

Your freedom isn’t free

So let me say what freedom means to

I can’t see red, white, and blue waving in the air

I don’t hear the bombs bursting and I don’t even care

I’m sorry for my lack of faith I’m not the greatest patriot

If this is all there is to freedom I don’t want it

I can’t fall anymore

For some silver-tongued song

Your freedom isn’t free

So let me say what freedom means to

Pushing us a drug that you call freedom and democracy

Promise us that selfishness is the means for happiness

I burned that bridge so long ago that I can hardly see

Anything but solace in what freedom means to me

I can’t fall anymore

For some silver-tongued song

Freedom isn’t free

So let me say what freedom means to

It cannot mean to serve ourselves

That doesn’t mean a thing

It doesn’t mean to give the license

To seek ourselves in anything

That would be slavery to ourselves it isn’t free

Jesus Christ, the only thing that freedom means to me.

  1. I’m with you Julia – I can’t sing patriotic songs and what we call freedom is only for some depending on the color of your skin. We gain our freedom by taking away the freedom of others? Who really is the enemy?

  2. A follow-up comment: I have felt like I have needed to clarify my positions on memorializing the military since I made this post and am not not sure that I used the best words. I apologize for my vagueness and anything that may seem insensitive about this very sensitive and important topic.

    I am a pacifistic in the most radical of ways. This is because of how I understand the gospel. I am opposed to weapons, destruction, and oppressive militarization. I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Rev. MLK, Jr’s words about this: “If we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth … A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” (“Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence,” speech delivered at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City, April 4, 1967.)

    When I imagine world peace- and God’s kingdom come- I imagine a world where the country still has some sort of military, but their role would be very different. They would be involved exclusively in rescue and humanitarian missions- such as helping communities recover after national disasters. They would not use bombs or fight or kill. I totally hate war and I want a world free of war.

    I am not anti-solider, or anti-anyone. I am okay with all good people being celebrated as if they are saints. I have questions, however, if we make heroes out of the wounded pawns of the military systems and don’t rejoice over those who have died for us non-violently. I do trust the integrity of the choices of all Christians and pray for the safety and welfare of all of God’s people. I seek to uphold the dignity of all people, no matter who they are.

    I have major concerns about how many Americans can so quickly turn to the flag and nationalism as a source for comfort and strength in times of turmoil. I would rather everyone would turn exclusively to the cross.

    I acknowledge that this is very complicated and I do not want it to seem that I am naive about the suffering, pain, risks and sacrifices that the troops, veterans, and military families go through every day.

    I am overwhelmed and continue to pray for some sort of radical, global conversion. I pray for world peace and hope that you do too.