by Evan Dow-Williamson

Good morning, my name is Evan Dow-Williamson, a member of the Center for Spiritual Living and part of our Young Adult Group.

This Tuesday, November 11th, will be the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day. An armistice is a situation where warring parties agree to stop fighting. This day was originally set aside to reflect and remember the sacrifices men and women made during World War I.

About 1953 it became Veteran’s Day to acknowledge the veterans of all wars and to thank them for their service.

But no matter which conflict our soldiers were in, they often return with “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”; which is the current clinical term.

I prefer the term “Soldier’s Heart” because it reminds me of the soul-wounding that happens in war.

In 1998, the total number of Vietnam veterans who committed suicide after returning to the US was over 100,000. The memorial in Washington DC would be three times its current length if all the names of our dead were included today.

What we don’t learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat. The Iraq Wars have not produced as many dead as other wars. But in 2007, CBS reported on the “Suicide Epidemic among Veterans” of the Iraq Wars stating that veterans’ aged 20-24 had the highest rate, and conservatively estimating 120 suicide per week in 2005 alone.

It is important for me to remember that it does not matter whether I was for or against the war. A spiritual being has no political party or agenda, only love. And it does not matter if I believe in the cause or logic of others. I must remember that these men and women are our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters; and are entitled to God’s love and therefore my love.

Because of this love I can only give my whole-hearted support to the process of helping to heal and welcome them home. It is my belief that we the people have a responsibility, by which I mean the ability to respond, to our veterans.

To the returning veteran, let our leaders and people say “You did this in our name and because you were subject to our orders. Let us help. We will share this burden with you. We love and honor you. Welcome home.”

Without this sharing of responsibility, the veteran becomes the nation’s scapegoat and carries the nation’s grief and guilt for all of us. Keeping our distance from our veterans is how we dehumanize them.

I am not here to ask for money or for a moment of silence.

For those who have passed have only silence left, and silence will not serve those who are still with us.

I ask only for your thoughts of love to touch those in your life who are still there, that have come back, and remember those who did not.

To them all say “thank you”. It is my hope that we begin to think about what we can do, as a community, to help bring peace to the hearts & minds of all veterans, and for us to help them find their way home.