The changed face of war

In our mind, Memorial Day has always been a solemn occasion marked by the grizzled faces of veterans whose sad eyes reflect visages of fallen comrades and un-erasable images of lonely battlefields.

Yes, it is a day of auto races, picnics, baseball games and other family outings. But the essence of the day – and its reason for being – is to remember those who have served and sacrificed for our country. And to salute those who are currently doing so.

Perhaps it is yet another sign of advanced age, but it seems to us that it has become an even sadder day than it was when we were young. And, after considerable thought, it struck us that the reason for our sadness is that more and more of the faces of those serving are female.

Several times this past weekend, we were reminded that not just dads – but also moms – are torn away from their families this year by our military efforts in the Middle East. Coming from a family where the mother was the glue that held everything together, it is almost impossible for us to imagine life as a child where every bedtime prayer is a plea to God to not let a faceless foe kill the heart of our world.

One could mark it down as the price for progress – women now have an equal opportunity to die for their country. But can’t we preserve just this one section of life as it used to be? We are tired of seeing television clips of tiny faces talking via Skype to their mother in a far away, dangerous land.

Mothers are supposed to be there to dry your tears and put bandages on your scraped knees – not to be targets in the scopes of snipers.

We know it would be discrimination to bar women with children from serving and that there is no turning back time or ignoring progress. But, somehow we believe that if kids had a say, this little chunk of time would be turned back.

Ah, well, another Memorial Day has come and gone. The sadness will leave – for us. But what about the children?

(A version of this editorial has appeared previously in The Maui News.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.