Mass Graves

The PBS Newshour recently ran a segment on 72 mass graves found in Syria and Iraq. It may be that the identity of the thousands of people buried there may never be known, Lori Hinnant, the reporter of the story explained that the lack of money and the lack of political will make it doubtful the needed research would occur. That does not mean these lives must be forgotten. Hinnant tells of a father she met who was looking for his sons who according to an eyewitness were in a particular grave she was investigating. He wanted to give them proper burial, something he may or probably will not be able to do. It’s painful to think of the realities that landed all these people in mass graves. Maybe these martyred lives—for to me they were, and most were victims of massacres no doubt—will not have names or burial, but they can be honored. We can honor them. We can honor them by remembering them and by learning that while it may be eons before humanity can learn to eliminate wars, our task is to help us move towards that end. While we as individuals cannot stop the war in Syria, in Iraq, in so many countries, by remembering the human beings in these mass graves, and what they teach us about the cruelty of war, we can take a tiny step in that direction. The horrors of the fighting come to us daily if we are listening, the plight of the growing number of refugees can haunt us, and we can feel powerless. Yet, these mass graves can speak to us with a unique poignancy, touch us more deeply than headlines and remind us that wars cost too much—too much suffering, too much death, too much cruelty, too much wasted lives and opportunities.