Today in the US is Memorial Day. While the holiday has become overly commercialized with sales, sales, SALES, it is still a day to remember those who have fallen in service to the country, no matter what their position. It is a day to thank those who currently serve for the sacrifices they have made and the duties they have taken on so that we do not have to.
How many of us have held a gun? How many of us have shot at another human being? How many of us have been in or near a war zone and heard the terrifying sounds of battle? We are privileged in this country in that we no longer have a draft and there is no mandatory service for all citizens. It is a choice to join the armed forces. For many of us, we choose not to join. But there are those who do choose to fight and serve, to protect, to try and make the world safer for those they leave behind at home, and some make the sacrifice of their lives.
I, for one, and grateful that there is no mandatory service and no draft. I could not live the life of a soldier, physically or emotionally. And I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to watch my younger brothers go off to war if there were a draft or, again, mandatory service. These thoughts make me appreciate all the more the sacrifices that soldiers and their families make every day.
In the past decade, Pagans serving in the military has gained more prominence as the questions of Pagan military chaplains and Pagan symbols on headstones have arisen. We did win the right to display Pagan symbols for fallen Pagan soldiers on their headstones if they so wished, and Pagans are gaining more permissions within the military to further their spiritual practices.
For more reading about Paganism in the military, here are some links to good articles and websites:
- “Honoring Our Pagan Fallen on Memorial Day,” Jason Pitzl-Waters at The Wild Hunt.
- The Pagan Institute Report–a bit outdated, but holds some good information from previous years.
- “The Pentagon and the Pentacle,” Carl McColman, Beliefnet 2010.
- “An It Harm None: Pagans, the Military, and the C.O. Question,” Stefani E. Barner, Llewellyn articles.
- Warriors and Kin, a website devoted specifically to Pagans serving in the military.