The work of Memorial Day

Irving Berlin was an immigrant
and he gave us “God bless America.”
Katherine Lee Bates was a lesbian
and she gave us “America the Beautiful.”
And how many are there –
new American, transgender,
lesbian, gay, queer in many names,
people of every faith and no faith,
who have served this country?

And so, leaning into a saint of mine –
Howard Thurman – let me say:

When parades of middle school bands are over,
and cemetery flowers and new flags droop,
when the grills cool off,
and people return to work and school,
the work of Memorial Day begins:

to find the lost among our veterans,
and heal minds and bodies of everyone,
to welcome the homeless
from among all the nations,
and release those waiting to be deported,
to celebrate our diversity
from the inside out,
to bring peace,
so there need be no more war,

to find music in the heart
grateful to those who wrote it
and willing to sing
for everyone who needs to hear.

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