Thinking peace on Memorial Day

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Published: 05-27-2024 9:44 AM


On Memorial Day we can honor the sacrifices of our soldiers and continue the quest for world peace.

As President Dwight Eisenhower said of Memorial Day, “Let us reverently honor those who have fallen in war, and rededicate ourselves through prayer to the cause of peace, to the end that the day may come when we shall never have another war — never another Unknown Soldier.”

America’s aspiration, as Eisenhower said, is “that war may be removed from the earth forever.”

But on this Memorial Day, we must be deeply worried about the number of conflicts taking place around the globe. Wars in Gaza, Ukraine and Sudan have been escalating in recent months.

With these wars comes other horrors such as famine. Millions of people are starving to death in Gaza, Sudan, Yemen, Burkina Faso, D.R. Congo and other conflict zones. Wars must end so that famines can be prevented.

Famine is another reason why on Memorial Day it is important to speak out against war. Resorting to conflict should only be a last resort as a policy.

The United States must always be the leader in promoting peace, in guiding nations away from war. We know the horror of war, and many of our families have experienced the trauma and sacrifice. Peace is the only alternative, especially in this day and age of advanced weaponry.

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It is very troubling that there is such an escalation in arms buildups, which increases the risk of catastrophic war.

World military expenditures rose to an all-time high last year of $2443 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

“The unprecedented rise in military spending is a direct response to the global deterioration in peace and security,” said Nan Tian, senior researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme. “States are prioritizing military strength but they risk an action-reaction spiral in the increasingly volatile geopolitical and security landscape.”

Nuclear weapons modernization plans are going forward while treaties languish. The more resources diverted to weaponry, the less resources to peacemaking.

How does a world build peace if its resources are dedicated primarily to weapons? No true peace can emerge under such conditions. Disarmament has to remain a goal of the United States, to get all nations to reduce their weapons.

Why couldn’t the United States, Russia and China reduce their nuclear weapons arsenals by at least half in the next five years? Each nation has too many nukes already, so why not start reducing them in a joint effort? The U.S., Russia and China should all ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear test explosions. These are all steps to reduce international tensions and encourage diplomacy to help end and prevent wars.

As we reflect on Memorial Day and the sacrifices made, we must do more to build a world at peace. Those who gave their lives want us to live free from the horror of war. We must keep up the quest for peace to best honor their sacrifice.

William Lambers is the author of “The Road to Peace” and partnered with the U.N. World Food Program on the book “Ending World Hunger.” His writings have been published by The Washington Post, Newsweek, History News Network, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and many other news outlets.