On Memorial Day, I remember some of the most ardent and intense peace enthusiasts: U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War.
Take David Velasquez, a soldier I served with at U.S. Army Republic of Vietnam Headquarters at Long Binh, South Vietnam, in 1971.
Back then, he was Spc. 5 Velasquez, and he refused to accept a Bronze Star for bravery because he felt, rightly, that as a GI serving in the rear he didn't deserve it. In the process, he was labeled a malcontent and given a court-martial.
I think about David every Memorial Day, not because he is a fallen soldier but because he used to play his guitar in Vietnam, often leading us in sing-alongs. One of his favorites was "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"
For me, that song strikes at the heart of Memorial Day and its historical connection to the flowers used to commemorate those who have died in America's wars.