The White House, as customary, has issued a Memorial Day Proclamation to honor our fallen servicemen and women. In the 2017 Proclamation, President Trump has issued a call for a prayer for permanent peace: “I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11 a.m. of that day as a time when people might unite in prayer.”
This is praiseworthy, however a little history lesson helps put this in perspective. In 2016, President Obama used nearly the same words in his Proclamation. However, this time President Trump is not guilty of plagiarism – similar language has been used in the Presidential Memorial Day Proclamation for more than 60 years. In 1953, President Eisenhower declared “a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning at eleven o’clock in the morning of that day, Eastern Daylight Saving Time, as a period in which all the people of the Nation, each according to his religious faith, may unite in solemn prayer.” In fact, the U.S. Congress, in a joint resolution approved May 11, 1950, as amended (36 U.S.C. 116), requested that each President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace.
While the words may be largely a formality, it is useful to reflect on the common aspiration they have reflected over the years, and to consider – how are we doing in meeting that aspiration?
Specifically, has the U.S. government in general, and President Trump in particular, been promoting permanent peace?
Consider the following:
The United States is the largest arms exporter in the world http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/arms-trade-exporters-importers-weapons-transfers-sipri-a6891491.html
The US will be spending nearly $1 trillion to upgrade its nuclear armaments https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/USNuclearModernization
President Trump Pushes for $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/18/world/middleeast/jared-kushner-saudi-arabia-arms-deal-lockheed.html?_r=0
In April, the U.S. dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal in Afghanistan http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/14/asia/afghanistan-isis-moab-bomb/
Proposed 2018 budget cuts foreign aid (U.S. bilateral foreign-aid accounts; funding for the United Nations, World Bank, and other international institutions; and the State Department’s diplomatic duties) by 31% https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/04/what-trumps-foreign-aid-budget-means-to-the-rest-of-the-world/521553/
The evidence suggests that the U.S. is NOT living up to the aspirations for permanent peace. This is something to pray for at 11 a.m. on Memorial Day.