One Memorial Day, I visited a small town in Maryland near the Antietam National Battlefield. Still considered to be the most devastating one-day battle in American history, the Civil War soldiers who fell there are buried in the nearby Antietam National Cemetery. Every Memorial Day, tribute is paid to fallen heroes from all wars.
At the emotional peak of the ceremony, a soldier played taps. Cannons were fired, and an airplane flew overhead. Sadness permeated the air.
Then I saw a happy formation of young schoolchildren come marching down the street in the parade. There must have been about 50 of them, the girls in white dresses and the boys in white shirts. Each carried a small flag. Their little faces broke into grins when they caught sight of their parents. They waved, they smiled, and some of them laughed. They were proud to be in the parade. Their joy transformed the day for me.
To me, that ribbon of white, those precious little children, represented purity and innocence. They reminded me of the eternal childlikeness – the spirituality, hope, and innocence of every man and woman. That included those who had gone on as war heroes, and those who were marching and applauding that day in honor of them. It also embraced those overseas who had fought in other wars on behalf of their nations. Every one of us is God's child, eternally cared for by Him. And all are at peace in God's love.
The vibrancy of God's creation, reflected in the children's faces, raised my thought above war and discord into the consciousness of God's love for every one us. It was a God-sent message of hope that turned me to celebrating eternal life.
I spent that afternoon memorializing courage, selfless love on behalf of others, and the unity of God's family. And I realized that truly honoring those who went to war is acknowledging that they will always be one with their Father-Mother God, and that we are always together with them in Spirit, in divine Love.
We each can be part of that ribbon of white that uplifts humanity's thought, by expressing our own childlike innocence. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and founded this newspaper, wrote: "Beloved children, the world has need of you, – and more as children than as men and women: it needs your innocence, unselfishness, faithful affection, uncontaminated lives. You need also to watch and pray that you preserve these virtues unstained, and lose them not through contact with the world" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 110). The Bible puts it this way: "Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children.... For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light" (Eph. 5:1, 8).
I will never forget that moment near the battlefield in that tiny town in the month of May. With the lingering fragrance of lilacs in the air, the little children marched, giving us hope that wars will one day cease and peace prevail.