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Remembering the Memorial Vigil

On Thursday, May 27, 2004, a few hundred people gathered to honor lives and protest the deaths in an interfaith peace vigil in Palo Alto, California. The San Jose Mercury News covered this vigil (read the news article). The vigil was organized and publicized by Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice.

To respond to numerous requests for the Prayer of Repentance from the vigil and Iraq II, a poem written and recited by the Rev. George Wilson, we've reprinted the text of these below.

Prayer of Repentance:
O God of every nation, in these appalling days of war,
RESPONSE: WE LIFT UP OUR PRAYERS OF REPENTANCE.

For our failure once again to choose peaceful, humane ways to deal with conflict, (RESPONSE)

For once again asking our young men and women to suffer and cause suffering. to kill and be killed; (RESPONSE)

For vibrant lives suddenly and shamelessly sacrificed, and for the lives that continue, haunted forever by the pain of horror and loss, (RESPONSE)

For the conflagration of nightmare images forever seared into our memories, (RESPONSE)

For every act of terror, abuse, torture and killing, and every expectation or command that another engage in such acts, (RESPONSE)

For the charred visions of peace and the dry taste of shame, (RESPONSE)

For our addiction to weapons and war, power and greed, (RESPONSE)

Change our course, O God. Change our hearts, minds, souls and actions. (RESPONSE)

Change the course of our lives, change the course of our communities of faith, give us courage and vision to speak and act for dignity and life for all. (RESPONSE)

Change the course of our government, change the course of our nation, change the course of our world, that we may build a new reality where humanity and the earth itself flourishes with life. (RESPONSE)

You convict us O God with your call for peace, compassion and justice. (RESPONSE)

Convert us O God to your ways of peace, compassion and justice. (RESPONSE)

Consecrate us O God to the work of peace, compassion and justice. (RESPONSE)
Amen.

IRAQ II
Copyright, George M. Wilson, 2852 Forest Lodge Road, Pebble Beach, CA 93953

(Reprinted here with permission)

One loss counts we know
when he or she is named, is young,
from Wisconsin or Tennessee,
East Harlem or Los Angeles.
What flows, however,
from some Felluga’s
mother’s heart,
or a Baghdad father,
when broken shards
of a totally unknown to us
body,
buried in rubble,
from our tanks and bombs,
has to be gathered up,
to be buried again,
I’m not sure we know.

There is no memorial here
to remind us of them there,
to tell us who they are,
no taps at the lowering of remains,
just the whir of helicopters,
the whine of bullets.
No flag is presented
to mothers and fathers,
much less a letter
from our president.
No granite headstone
will mark where the son
or daughter is laid,
only scratches on shattered cement,
in a language we cannot read.

Broken hearts all look alike,
some recessed part
of our nation’s soul knows.
Weeping, sleepless nights,
when one we know
and love, dies,
yes, we know,
but not the hunger,
or smell of death,
not the destroyed home
to return to nor tomorrow’s
anticipated horror,
haunting, distorting faces
on uninhabitable streets.

We have learned to know
and not to know
at the same time,
avoiding thereby confusion
over what might memorials
for World War I, World War II
Korea, Vietnam,
or should they be,
Afghanistan,
Iraq I and Iraq II,
look like.
How long would it take?
to walk them through,
feel the sacrifice and sorrow,
if they named
all the others
who have been killed,
not to mention those
tortured, maimed,
and scared for life,
by us.



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