Why We Celebrate Memorial Day
It might not seem logical for Memorial Day to be something that animists observe. We already have two ancestor days – Ancestor Day and May Day. Is honoring our fallen soldiers a spiritual practice or a personal one? Is it appropriate to honor soldiers at all? If you have these thoughts, read on and see why you might choose to celebrate Memorial Day.
Memorial Day is not Ancestor Day
Ancestor Day is for remembering your dead ancestors. Memorial Day is for honoring those who died while serving their country during military combat. So Memorial Day is a way to reflect and give thanks for the sacrifice that others gave for your country. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with the politics or not. It’s about the loss of life and their willingness to do this so that others didn’t have to.
It’s an Honoring of the Warrior Archetype
Many archetypal energies are widely expressed in their shadow form. The Warrior is no different, so the Warrior can get a bad rap. The shadow Warrior is either a coward who runs from the fight or the warmonger who fights dirty, wins at any cost, and annihilates the opponent – forgetting all humanity. The healthy Warrior is one who fights appropriately, fights to resolve an issue, doesn’t take it personally, and never forgets that we are all related.
When we set aside a time to reflect on the positive aspects of the Warrior archetype, it can help us to connect with our own inner warrior. This can strengthen us whether we are soldiers or not.
It’s an Honoring of Our Soldiers
War is hell. I can’t imagine the terror that our people in uniform face in their daily working lives. They go away to see and experience horrible things, and then are expected to return to civilization and fit in as if none of that were real.
It’s an unrealistic expectation. There is no reciprocity. They care for us. We don’t care for them. Veterans are underserved. They don’t have adequate health or mental health care. They don’t have the respect that they are due. Mainstream society doesn’t have rituals to purify them before they come back to the community or deal with the things that they endure on our behalf.
The warrior/tribe relationship has got to be mended. Memorial Day is for seeing and remembering what our soldiers do. The way back to wholeness is to be become a community again. We all have to be a part of any choice to do war. We have to practice seeing the “enemy” and soldiers as our brothers. I am told that this is why the Vietnamese didn’t have the incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following that combat that western soldiers did.
What Can You Do?
- Connect with your loss. Which relatives died while fighting? Light a candle for them. Say a prayer. Never forget their sacrifice or your people.
- Tell the stories of their strength, courage, and sacrifice. True death comes with forgetting. As long as we tell their stories, they stay alive within us. Their stories are the stories of our history. As long as we acknowledge and remember our history, we can learn from it.
- Visit a battlefield. The ghosts of so many still live here. The best way to help the unresolved dead is through love. They respond to energy. If you can be a light for the dead, do that. Your brightness can help lift them out of darkness.
- Show respect to our living soldiers. Even if you don’t like what they do, you can value their sacrifice.
- Tend the dead. Maybe this means that you clean a grave. Maybe you do this by tending your ancestral altar. Do it in whatever way makes sense to you.