As I write, in a little over a week, I am off to Houston, Texas where I am officiating at the wedding of Matt and Kristen on 3rd November.
I am looking forward to my visit not only for the wedding but I have always been a bit of a Western fan as well as an American history buff!! During my stay in the US I am planning to visit San Antonio where the famous fort, “The Alamo” is to found. Incidentally, the Alamo was originally a church!! In the year 1836 when Texas was fighting for independence from Mexico 187 defenders held off an army of almost 5000 for 13 days. On 6th March 1836 the tiny garrison was overwhelmed and all put to the sword on the orders of the Mexican dictator, Santa Ana.
Most Hollywood movies depicting this period of Texan history finish with the end of the battle and the death of its valiant defenders including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. But amazingly, on 21st April 1836, just six weeks after the Alamo fell another small Texan army, under General Sam Houston, completely routed a much superior Mexican force at the battle of San Jacinto. (Near where the city of Houston stands today). Santa Ana was captured during the battle and in return for his life he granted Texas independence. The newly formed Republic of Texas was an independent sovereign state for nearly ten years until it became the 28th state of the USA on 29th December 1845. The battle cry of the victorious Texans at San Jacinto was, “Remember the Alamo!!”
What spurred the victorious Texans on at San Jacinto was the memory of the savagery at the Alamo and the desire for revenge. When we gather on Remembrance Sunday, which this year is actually 11th November, and stop for the two minutes silence at 11.00am, one hundred years to the very hour the First World War ended, our thoughts will not be of revenge but of gratitude mixed with sorrow. Gratitude for the brave souls who gave their lives for their country during WW1 and all subsequent conflicts and also sorrow that so many had to die (and die still) to defend our freedom.
It is right that we take time to properly remember those who gave their “todays” for our “tomorrows.” If we truly wish to honour those we remember we should do all we can to work for a peaceful and just society. It is a very true saying,
“If you want peace – work for justice.”
The prophet Zechariah in chapter nine of the book that bears his name looks forward to a time when Israel’s king will come to Jerusalem not riding a war horse but a humble donkey, the symbol of peace.
“He will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war horses from Jerusalem and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations.” (Zechariah 9:10)
Walking the way of Jesus is building a just world which in turn will help create a peaceful world. It’s still “work in progress” but let us continue to work for progress in the promotion of justice and peace and so honour the memory of those who gave all they had to give.
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”