I remember when Memorial Day meant that we had learned that war was not the solution to any conflict, and vowed never again.

I remember when mothers who held their children close to their breast were not the same mothers who supported the killing of other people’s children.

I remember when ‘Support the Troops’ meant giving them adequate protection in combat, and bringing them home alive, but did not mean supporting their mission of the murder of other human beings.

I remember when sons taught their fathers about peace by being conscientious objectors to another war that was supposed to be ‘the war to end all wars.’

I remember when fathers learned from their sons.

I remember when supporting our veterans meant that though we may not have agreed with the reasons they went to war or the irreparable violence and destruction they inflicted upon others, we had the decency and respect for the time and lives they gave to their country, (time forever gone,) to not cut their health benefits, and steal their personal information.

I remember that some came back in body, but without a mind, some with mind in mangled body, and some with body and mind – but missing a piece of themselves they will spend a lifetime trying to remember – or with a piece of themselves they would just as soon forget.

I remember learning to sing ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ and ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ on a porch step in Illinois as a pre-teen from some hippies pretending to be adults, and later with Pete Seeger at the Old Town School of Folk Music – our church of choice at the time, and knowing that the words made sense since they touched me deep in my soul and have lived there ever since . . .

“How many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
How many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
How many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?”
 “When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?”
I remember a time when our flag did not cause me shame.

I remember a country that had not desensitized itself to war and killing through corporate-owned ‘If-it-bleeds-it-leads’ media, ‘shoot-‘em-up’ video games for kids, and the never-ending churn of violence from Hollywood.

I remember a world that bears the wounds of war, but doesn’t stop the behavior that leads to it.

I remember when Christianity had not yet been hijacked by war-mongers unleashing their hatred, xenophobia, and quest for domination at the expense of others onto God’s children living in other countries – countries they did not understand, countries they did not seek to understand.

I remember when people lived more conscious lives, instead of choosing to sleepwalk through life on the paths of apathy or disengagement.

I remember when U.S. wars were fought by men and women of many races, instead of by ethnic minorities who immigrated here only to be exploited, and later to be cast aside as ‘illegals,’ or the rural poor who were sold a bill of goods by slick salesmen dressed in uniforms of death.

I remember a time when people really cared about connecting with their fellow man, instead of numbing themselves with their addiction-of-choice, be it TV, drugs, and consumerism.

I remember that in all of the world’s faiths and religions, there is the equivalent of ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.’

I remember that we forgot.

I remember that we forgot to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to turn the other cheek.

I remember that we forgot the Golden Rule of treating others as we would want to be treated.

I remember that we forgot about the scars that never heal from having murdered another human being.

I remember that we forgot, but our dreams always remember, whether we want to our not.

I remember that we forgot that on the other end of the gun is someone else’s loved one.

I remember that we forgot that peace is a choice.

And now, we forget to remember.

We forget to remember.

We forget to remember what war does to the world, to a country, to a family, to a person, to a soul.

We forget to remember all of the priceless human lives, of all races, and of all nations, that cannot be replaced, and refuse to be forgotten.

We forget to remember that human beings are all equal.

We forget to remember because it is easier to forget.

But, we must never forget.

We must never forget that violence begets violence.

We must never forget that no killing is justified.

We must never forget that peace is possible, once choice at a time.

When will we remember what we are trying to forget?

When will we choose to remember what we have forgotten?

How many lives will it take until we remember?

When will we remember?

When will we really remember?

When will we end all of the remembering and all of the forgetting, for once and for all?

That Memorial Day will be worth remembering and worth celebrating.

Until then, I remain a dissenting, peace-loving, peace-seeking patriot.

Leslie Sheridan is a peace and justice activist, poet and consultant who lives and works in Sonoma, CA.