Monday, November 13, 2006

Air Force Memorial

These are pictures of the recently completed and dedicated, $30 million Air Force Memorial, located in Arlington, Virginia, overlooking the Pentagon. Its design is inspired by one of the Air Forces' legendary and exhilirating in-flight maneuvers. I thought it was an appropriate post considering the recent passing of Veterans' Day.

The Air Force is the last major branch of the military to be honored with such a memorial (although they probably have less majestic ones), even though the Air Force is playing an ever-increasing role in military operations.

The first photo shows President George W. Bush speaking at the memorial's dedication, and it gives a great illustration of the structure's massive size.
The second photo, although blurry, shows--in night perspective--the memorial in context of its location.
And the third photo appropriately catches the fly-by of military planes during the dedication ceremony.

I can see where some Christians might have some qualms about supporting memorials and monuments. No good Christian wants to break the Second Commandment, by making a graven image for themselves. But, I think that such a fear is over-reaching, although it has troubled me for a while while I've been contemplating this post. But I think I've come to a relatively safe conclusion. Consider these things:
First of all, I think most people--and especially Christians--keep memorials in context. These memorials are to honor, acknowledge, and remember--not worship. These memorials don't--or shouldn't--take the place of God--at any level. Ancestor-worship was and is a popular thing, but Christians shouldn't have to forsake a memorial like this because of that ever-present fallibility of man. .
Secondly, we should remember that God had the Israelites build memorials. Critics might claim, "Yeah, but those were memorials to remember what God had done." Is this any different? For some, maybe, but for Christians I don't think so. God has done amazing things for and in this country, shedding his mercy, grace, and bountiful blessings, whether all will recognize that or not.
Plus, these men who serve in our military--whether they are Christians or not--stand for the Christian and moral principles of the United States of America. Although there are plenty of things to be ashamed of in America, like legalized genocide of the unborn, for example, America--as of now--still stands for many upright things.
Also, these memorials are meant for the honorable servicemen. It is meant for the men who fought and fight with honor; fought and fight with valor; fought and fight with mercy; fought and fight with an attitude of love and self-sacrifice; etc.. These are Christian principles. In contrast, for instance, there are no monuments for those at Abu-Graib. Those who run and ran from the battle; those who are and were traitors; those who care and cared more about themselves than their fellow soldiers; those who are bloodthirsty; those who are and were dishonorable in combat--they do not have to be grouped in--obviously--as "honored" by any memorials. I think that's the idea behind being "dishonorably discharged" or receiving the "Yellow Stripe," etc. In addition, we don't have to honor and revere the whole hero, so much as the heroism of the hero. We know that some soldiers have immoral lives and cheat on their spouses. We do not have to be ashamed that we respect and honor their service. We are honoring their service; not their sex-lives or alcohol-ingestion.

Context--as always--is essential. That is why we should honor those serving and who served and enjoy and support their memorials--while not putting them on "graven" pedestals.
Still though, this is a touchy and "high-wire" subject. How much is too much when honoring fallen, fallible men? Obviously, we realize that no one is anything without God's grace. We know that human nature is desperately wicked. But we also know that humans, as made in God's image and receivers of God's common grace, have the propensity to do good. But where do all those things leave us in this discussion practically? I'd appreciate your opinions.

And in conclusion, I want to thank our veterans once again.

~Kingdom Advancer

Prayer for the Air Force:
Dear God and Creator of the "wild blue yonder," keep watch over our men and women in harm's way. It says in Your Word that Your people will "mount up with wings like eagles." These soldiers are literally in the sky, Lord, and they need to have Your wind beneath their wings, and they need the protection of Your wings. Even if they themselves are not Christians, Lord, aid them so that they can defend the Christian principles America represents. Spare their lives so that they may do Your Will, knowingly or not, in protecting the innocent and the freedoms that You have so wonderfully worked through. But don't just protect their bodies, Lord: protect their souls. So that, "when [they] die, hallelujah, by and by, [they'll] fly away" to be with You.
As always, though, Lord, if Your Will be different than what I perceive, do it regardless of what I say.
In Your Son Jesus' name,


Kingdom Advancer said...

Just wanted to clarify (and I edited the last line of the post), I was not saying that I only wanted veterans' opinions. I don't know if anybody took it that way, but if you have an opinion, you are more than welcome to give it.
(The line "I'd appreciate your opinions" followed by "Thank you, veterans, once again" struck me as a little confusing perhaps, as I reviewed my article tonight.)

melia12 said...

I commented on one of your earlier posts, the one I've been leaving my comments on. Sorry, but i don't have time to read your post right now. I was supposed to be off the computer 20 minutes ago. Maybe next time.
(this is somedayandforever, by the way)
Sorry if there is any confusion about my display name. Read your other comment.

Kingdom Advancer said...

Hey, Jo!
I was about to ask your sister what happened to you because when I would put in your web address it would say "not found."