I hate war. I hate the destruction and the countless casualties that are the inevitable result of any battle. I cringe when I hear people comment that most wars are only about religion or oil. I sometimes agree when people question American involvement in many foreign conflicts. So, due to emotional confusion, I never really celebrated Memorial Day, which is holiday to honor the fallen soldiers of our armed forces. However, today, Monday, May 25, 2015, Memorial Day has taken on a completely different meaning for me.
At my college, the last term, which just ended Thursday, May 21, I was assigned to teach a new class. The course was HIS215 Modern World History. I was excited to be appointed to this class. I was pleased that the Dean of my college told me I had enough credits to teach the class at the community college where I have worked for the past seven years. Over the years, I had mainly been teaching all the basic prep pass/fail courses in Math and English. I was thrilled to have this new opportunity to teach an advanced course and was even more excited that the class focused on 20th century history. History had been one of my favorite subjects when I was in college.
HIS215 covered WWI, WWII, the Korean War, The Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and the War on Terrorism. Even though I had studied history in college, many of the details and facts had faded from my brain over the last several years. I had to do an amazing amount of reading, researching, and studying to focus myself on the events of the 20th century, which actually is considered by most historians to be the most violent, bloodiest century in history. I spent endless hours perusing volumes of material in order to give my students the best information about the events. I tend to be an “Information Junkie.” I was amazed by how much I learned while teaching this class.
In the 20th century, most American presidents like Woodrow Wilson were pacifists who fought to keep America out of wars and created documents like the “Fourteen Points” to develop peace in the world. Many conflicts like WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War were fought by brave Americans to stop the spread of Imperialism and Communism. So many courageous men and women gave their lives fearlessly to America to fight for democracy and freedom.
Many of my students were shocked by the events of the different wars and developed a better understanding of the American perspective. My students were severely outraged by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. That event happened when the majority of my students were just 6 or 7 years old. I watched as horror and compassion slowly graced their shocked faces. “I understand now,” most of them stated. “That’s what happened! That’s what that conflict was all about!” Pride, compassion, and respect are the byproduct of knowledge and understanding. I think the majority of us, myself included, walked away from that class with a true respect for the American soldier.
There should be a law that all Americans must take a history course every year! Due to this class, my perspective of war and our American troops has completely realigned. I don’t know if it is from the review of the conflicts or the wisdom I have gained as I have grown older, but my deepest respect has grown for all of our men and women in uniform.
Memorial Day should not be about bar-b-ques and swimming pools. Memorial Day should not be observed as the beginning of summer. Memorial Day should be revered, either out loud with fellow Americans or silently in our own hearts, as the day we pay respect and tribute to all American forces who have fought or who continue to fight for American honor! PRAY TODAY FOR A SOLDIER! God bless our troops!