A Memorial Day Prayer
by William Sloane Coffin, Jr.
Gracious God, whose own Son's term of service to humanity was so full that its brevity was no distress, we call to mind on this Memorial Sunday those who will not grow old as we are left to grow old, those whose lives were too brief for us but long enough, perhaps, for thee.
Forgive us that they died so young because we were too unimaginative, too imperious, too indifferent, or just too late to think of better ways than warfare to conduct the business of the world.
Gratefully, we remember the generosity that prompted them to share the last of their rations, the last pair of dry socks, to share in the course of one hour in the foxhole more than most of us care to share with one another in a lifetime.
And we recall the courage that made more than one of them fall on the grenade there was no time to throw back.
Grant, O God, that they may not have died in vain.
May we draw new vigor from past tragedy.
Buttress our instincts for peace, sorely beleaguered.
Save us from justifications invented to make us look noble, grand and righteous and from blanket solutions to messy, detailed problems.
Give us the vision to see that those nations that gave the most to their generals and least to their poor were, throughout all history, the first to fall.
Most of all, give us the vision to see that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth, too small for anything but love.
Through Jesus Christ our Savior, who became what we are to make us what he is.