Santo, Santo, Santo
I was sitting on my couch writing about the horrors of war on this the 40th anniversary of the My Lai massacre and the approaching 5th anniversary of George's crime against humanity, the abominable occupation of Iraq. Reading about the testimony of Winter Soldier did nothing to alleviate my mood and the only thing that was giving me consolation is knowing that my son, Casey, was a conscientious objector in the last moments of his life.
I have the TV on while I am writing and I was assaulted with the images of ex-Proconsul of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer still supporting the mess after all these years and all the damage he did there and Republican presidential nominee, John McCain is in Iraq and he is extolling the virtues of the "surge" and his hundred years' war. I am as upset with the reporting when not one of our so-called journalists questions the unfounded lie that the "surge is working," as I am with the lies. I am upset that after 5 years and boundless suffering, the carnage is continuing and the media/military/congressional industrial war complex is still churning along fed by billions of our tax dollars and loans from our new mortgagor: China. A gallon of gas has become more expensive than a gallon of milk and people are losing their homes and jobs at unprecedented rates. Our poor dollar has become the laughingstock of the planet, as has our once feared military. But the news isn't all gloom and doom, at least Congress is protecting us from the evils of steroid use in baseball! We can sleep at night knowing that Congress is on the job!
As I was writing, I began to hear a chorus of voices singing loudly on the street below. I got up and walked to my front bay window and was treated with the sight of Latino families processing down the sidewalk holding palms and singing a song in Spanish and the refrain was: "Santo, Santo, Santo. " "Holy, Holy, Holy." It's Palm Sunday---oh, my gosh! In the life I lived before Casey was killed, I would have known this already. Palm Sunday is the day in Christian tradition when Jesus of Nazareth triumphantly rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the citizens were singing; "Holy, Holy, Holy" and strewing his path with palm fronds. Five days later, in the same tradition, Jesus of Nazareth was condemned to death by the Roman occupiers of Palestine (with the urging of the Jewish leadership and with the betrayal of Jesus' follower, Judas Iscariot) and executed in the Roman style of crucifixion.
I live in a Latino area in San Francisco and to watch the families push their babies in baby strollers and old people in wheel chairs was beautiful and uplifting. Our previous parish in Norwalk, Ca was largely Latino and I always loved to participate in their traditions that were more interactive than the Anglo ways. But as I was watching, I was reminded that Casey was killed on Palm Sunday (which was on April 04 that year) four years ago. Tears began to stream down my cheeks as my joy once again turned to sorrow.
Easter that year and every year since has not been happy for us, although Easter falls on different days every year. We have the double whammy of celebrating Easter and mourning Casey's death day every year in close proximity of each other. We picked out his "permanent resting place" on Good Friday. His body (encased in a cardboard box) came home to the loading dock of United Airlines at SFO on Holy Saturday; his vigil was on Easter Sunday evening and we buried him two days after Easter.
At the time of Casey's death he was the only practicing Catholic in our family, but he was so faithful. He even went to a rosary service on the Friday before he was killed, confirmed by a First Cavalry Captain who was also Catholic and attended Mass with Casey at Fr. Hood. When we received his personal belongings from Iraq and Ft. Hood, there were about a dozen sets of rosary beads. We could never confirm if he was able to attend Mass on Palm Sunday, but the last time I talked to him when he was in Kuwait (Ku-waiting for death); he was on his way to Mass. He joined the Army to be a Chaplain's assistant and his plans after the Army were to get married, have a family and be ordained a permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church. He was a very good person who was deceived into joining the military and killed five days in combat that he was assured he would never see.
What a contrast Casey presents to his commander in chief, George Bush. At Casey's age when he enlisted, George was a cheerleading party-boy and marginal student. During a time when many men his age were drafted to go to another illegal war, George was able to use his daddy's connections to jump in front of the line to be accepted into the Texas Air National Guard. After transferring to the Alabama Air National Guard, he went AWOL.
Through several failed businesses and a failed attempt at a Congressional bid in Texas, George was rewarded with the governorship of Texas after Karl Rove wove the devious spell that Ann Richards (beloved Governor) was a lesbian. By that time, George was a "born again Christian" and on the Jesus-plan of recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. In his Pontius Pilate-ness, George and his attorney, Al Gonzales, presided over the executions of mentally retarded convicts. With his family ties to big oil, he also presided over the biggest degradation of the environment and welcomed members of the Taliban to the Texas governor's mansion. Let's fast-forward to 2001. George had been crowned president of the USA by the Supreme Court in the same kind of coup that has brought other tyrants to power. After the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, George listening to his God, began lying about reasons to invade Iraq.
Santo, Santo, Santo. There is nothing holy about war. There is nothing moral about war and anyone from Osama bin Laden to George Bush who exploit religion to kill, maim, or oppress people are just murderous thugs and deserve to be held accountable for these crimes.
George's "Holy war" or bin Laden's "jihad" are simply wars on innocent civilians who are caught up in their ancient paradigms of the poor being slaughtered so the rich can get richer.
However, as the people of Jerusalem who had just been singing Jesus' praises at the beginning of the week, shouted "Crucify him, crucify him" on Good Friday, we are each one responsible for the bloodshed and cannot absolve ourselves from our part in George's game of evil empire.
Right before celebrating the Eucharist in the Catholic Church we are given the opportunity to shake our neighbors hands, or hug one another in a "sign of God's peace." At the end of Mass, we are told to "go in peace to love and serve the Lord." In this Holy Week, let us all rededicate our lives to loving and serving each other, God's people in peace, true peace. Not the blood-lust of the god of George and Osama.
That is the way we can wash the blood off of our own hands.