In honor of Memorial Day, Dean Gary Hall of the Washington National Cathedral urged members of the congregation to remember the living and advocate for equitable treatment of military veterans based on following in the way of Jesus:
Just as Jesus does not leave us orphaned, so we cannot leave our veterans to make their way on their own. Washington National Cathedral honors those who served and those who died not only by remembering and thanking them with words and rituals. We remember and thank them through action by standing with and for them in their quest for fair and equitable treatment. The struggle is not only to reform the bureaucracy. The struggle is also to change our hearts. If we say that we care, then we must act like we care. As the faith community we must take up the cause for public programs that will ensure veterans and their families the best in social, medical, educational, psychological, and employment policies. This cathedral’s veterans’ initiative must go beyond saluting the fallen and those who served to include advocacy for the living as well as the dead.
We do not confuse Memorial Day with Veterans’ Day, but sometimes the best way for us to honor the dead is to care for the living. If we really value the sacrifice of those who died in the service of our country, we will do all we can to make sure that their fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are adequately cared for and empowered to live full and fulfilling lives. It is not enough to say, “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” and leave it at that. Jesus will not leave us comfortless. We cannot leave them comfortless either. They gave everything. We owe them, their comrades and survivors, no less. Amen.
The video of Dean Hall’s sermon is available here from the Washington National Cathedral.