Service and Sacrifice: A Prayer for Memorial Day

By: 
Rabbi David Wirtschafter
Veterans graves with American flags for U.S. Memorial Day

God of Life and Death, Service and Sacrifice, Courage, and Compassion.

On this Sabbath, we gather together to remember those who died while serving our nation.

 And to recognize the veterans who served, whether decades ago or only yesterday.

We are internally conflicted on the cost of our conflicts.

As idealists, we wish there were never any need for defense forces.

Yet as pragmatists, we know there will always be a need for them.

As dreamers, we pray for a day when “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor ever again study war.”

Yet as realists, we accept that there are circumstances where force must be met with force.

Torah teaches us to “seek peace and pursue it.”

Yet, it also declares that there are enemies that must be destroyed.

We thank our soldiers, sailors, and pilots, for doing that which we wish never needed to be done.

And we pray for a world where time and talent, strength, and intellect, can be spent in fighting disease, defeating poverty, and defending the downtrodden without having to take up arms.

God of Peace and War, Concord and Conflict, Hope and Heartbreak;

We pray that the sacrifices of our fallen will forever be remembered, and that recognition of our veterans not merely convey thanks but demonstrate it.

May we not merely “proclaim peace to those near and far” but bring peace by doing the work required to realize it.

May this be our blessing and let us say:

Amen.

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