Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Memorials in the Rain

Many of you know that I am currently in Washington DC on “Active Duty for Training” (ADT). I am actually at Ft. McNair at the National Defense University, doing some research on Spirituality and Military Ethics. Right down the street from my Visitors Quarters are the barracks and the HQ for A Company, (The Commander-in-Chief’s Guard) of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)… the longest standing Infantry unit in the U.S. Army. It is a place steeped in history and tradition, and it is that history and tradition that reminds soldiers how and why they are different than “contractors”. We are responsible to something other than pay.

Having lived here a week, my uniform back on, I had thought all week that on Friday night after my first week’s duty, I would go out to visit the war memorials on the National Mall. However, when Friday came, there was thunder and lightning, rain and more rain, and I almost did not go.

Then it hit me… most of the soldiers for whom we built these memorials were out there, in the rain, facing the thunder and the lightning (both natural and man made). So I went anyway.

I don’t think I ever want to visit those memorials except when it is raining… when my pants are soaked, and cold rainwater is sliding under my hood. When my feet are slogging through flowing puddles, and when lightning is reflecting off of the memorials. We should never be comfortable when we visit the memorials to all of those killed in the wars we have fought. Comfort makes us want to honor them… to honor war, but honor is not the point of those memorials.

The point is to remember, to never forget the cost of using the military force of this nation. The point of those memorials is not to name those soldiers heroes, but to remember that they are dead, and to remember the cost in lives that politicians decide to pay when they use military force. All soldiers ever buy is time, and they buy it in blood. It is up to us what we do with that time, and we cannot, we must not waste it.

Nowhere was this more clear than the Korean War memorial, where faces of those who are gone stare at us from behind a hard granite wall of separation. They stare at statues of a small military unit, in their rain ponchos, moving through brush.

Remember, and make sure the cost is worth paying before you do it again.

Yours in faith,


Some more photos:

One Thought on “Memorials in the Rain

  1. Thats a very good point – maybe we should visit in really difficult conditions. So we can respect the sacrifices the troops make and think twice before sending them off to fight “wars of choice”!

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: