Greenwich should come see church’s Field of Flags

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

On Sunday, Second Congregational Church of Greenwich dedicated Field of Flags on our front lawn, a temporary installation of almost 7,000 American flags, each representing an American soldier killed in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The installation will be in place through Good Friday and we hope everyone in town takes the opportunity to visit and remember our nation’s veterans and their families, particularly those who lost their lives. Many have asked what the memorial is supposed to mean and why we have brought it to Greenwich.

First, our congregation represents many perspectives about war, in general, and about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in particular. In addition, the installation holds different meanings for different people. One person’s patriotic display is another’s aching reminder of the cost of war.

We believe thoughtful people of all viewpoints have much to learn from one another and we have found that when people share their experiences and perspectives honestly they discover far more common ground than they ever expected. We think Greenwich is ready for those discussions, whether they happen at church coffee hours, in the school car line, at the checkout counter, or while waiting for towels at the YMCA.

The flags themselves have been touring church lawns in Connecticut and several other states more or less continuously since October 2005 when the Somers Congregational Church began with 2,231 flags. That’s nine years. Accordingly, the most important question may be why the installation has continued to strike such a chord in so many different communities over such a long time.

I believe it is precisely because the flags push us to start talking with our friends and neighbors about profound and difficult matters, not only about what it is to stand with veterans and their families, but also about war and peace, life and death, service and sacrifice, the responsibilities of freedom, and the proper role of our nation among the nations of the world.

Our hope and prayer is that for the next three weeks, the front lawn of our church will get some of those conversations started.

 

Rev. Maxwell Grant
Greenwich

 The author is the senior minister of Second Congregational Church of Greenwich.

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