It’s sobering to realize how many have died fighting wars in our United States military. A 2015 story by the PBS NewsHour reported that 1.1 million military personnel have died in warfare since our country’s founding.
Even more sobering is the fact that just shy of 500,000 died in the U.S. Civil War – almost half. This staggering number comes from the fact that – unlike our other wars – this one was fought on American territory by American soldiers on both sides. The bloodiest day in American history occurred during this war (the Battle of Antietam) and the largest land battle in North American history also (Battle of Gettysburg).
I don’t want to hijack this solemn weekend of remembering but I was struck that the worst and bloodiest fights often occur not between warring nations but nations and people warring with themselves.
And I thought about my beloved denomination which is, well, at war with itself over issues of sexuality. Bitter conflicts I have witnessed in local churches. Families torn apart and destroyed by strife and disagreement. Battles at home are the worst, the bloodiest, and leave the deepest scars.
As we remember the fallen who have purchased peace and freedom for us… I am led, too, to prayer for peace on those internal fields of battle where blood is being spilled and spirits wounded even as I write. May the peace of Christ rule there and the freedom from anger and hurt come to reign there too.