by Ivan Abrahams
As I sat down to craft this introductory note for the June First Friday Letter, I was struck by the extent that this month’s calendar is defined by anniversaries of war. I began revisiting the histories and other facts associated with the First and Second World Wars and was stunned at the human toll that both wars seemed to have taken and how they framed and shaped the twentieth century.
On the sixth of June the 70th anniversary of the Allied Invasion of the European mainland during World War II is marked. On this day we are reminded of the sacrifices of the Allied forces that landed on the beaches of Normandy, France on that morning. Each nation has a day set aside to honor those who have fallen.
Later in the month is the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the Archbishop Franz Ferdinand, which led to the eruption of the First World War. As the century passes and the tales of fighting begin to fade from the personal into our history books, we must remember alongside the stories of gallantry and struggle that the cold, industrialized fighting of the First and Second World Wars must never be allowed to happen again.
Over 75 million people died in the fighting of these two wars. Parts of Europe, Asia and Africa were horribly scarred and reduced to absolute rubble, and the walking wounded showed the scars and memories of battle long after white flags were waved and treaties were ratified.
This month as we pause to remember and honor the sacrifice that these men and women paid in war, let us recommit ourselves to the cause of peace. As a member of the World Council of Church’s Executive Committee (2006 – 2013), I was involved with crafting the Just Peace Companion. I strongly urge us all to use it and consider the struggle for a global and sustainable peace to be our generation’s defining moment.
This month, let us remember and thank those who sacrificed for us all by working to make sure that no one will ever have to make a sacrifice so great again.