Remembering May Day....
Last Saturday, the government of Vietnam celebrated the fall of Saigon and their victory in their "war against America." Our main screen media provided us with parade video of their troops and flags and crowds. Although there was some mention of the fact that we are one of Vietnam's largest trading partners, there was almost no mention of the sad state of their economy. Thirty years have passed. And today, Vietnam is surrounded by the economies of the Asian Tigers we helped create. The truth is that communism has failed in Vietnam while capitalism and democracy has produced successful economies all around them.
The video of the Vietnamese parade brought back memories from the 1950's, memories that today most Americans don't even have. The Catholic Church dedicates the month of May to the Mother of God. In my city, parishes organized sort of a pilgrimage to War Memorial Stadium. Most of us walked miles. Others from too far away came by car. All the parishes brought a float to honor Mary.
These were not the professional floats that you see on televised parades. They were built by mostly school children with the help of parents and clergy. We would bring our floats into the stadium. Music would be played over the loud speakers. We would sing. The Bishop would speak to us. And then, we would leave after making sure we left the stadium even cleaner than when we arrived. The city let us use the stadium for free and we didn't want to abuse the favor.
I still remember one particular May Day after the Soviets had crushed the 1956 Hungarian uprising. I thought about a May Day celebration a world away from us in Moscow. Americans saw these parades on television or in the movie news clips at the local show. The Soviet leaders were always standing on some sort of precipice overlooking their people. Military units, tanks, artillery pieces, and missiles paraded by for hours. Our nuns told us they thought the Soviets choose May Day for their parade to show contempt for religion and the Mother of God. I thought about our little parade to the stadium to show our love of our faith and the Soviet parade to show their hatred of religion and freedom. As a child, the Soviets scared me because of what they would take away from us if they won the Cold War.
In 1978, the Catholic Church elected Pope John Paul II. He was a citizen of a communist nation and the first non-Italian Pope in centuries. It has been said that, at one time, Stalin was warned about the power of the Popes. Stalin reportedly responded that Popes had no divisions of military troops. Well, John Paul went to his native Poland. He brought no military divisions with him, but raised up legions of faithful among the Polish people. Communist leaders, with all their military divisions, did not defeat this Pope who had dedicated his reign to Mary the Mother of God. Although no one knew it back then, the vibrations from millions of Polish feet walking towards their Pope holding the crosses of their faith would one day crack and destroy the precipice upon which the leaders of Soviet Communism stood.
Today, in America, a political war is being waged against the beliefs of both Christians and Jews. The leaders of these attacks are called Secularists. At different times and in different places, such leaders have been called by many different names. Their objectives have always been the same. Soviet Communists, German Nazis, Chinese Communists, and others have all, in their time, tried to destroy religion in their nations. The reason is very simple. People who believe in God, the sanctity of life, and the rights of individuals will not allow their government to pursue evil policies against their beliefs and their fellow citizens. Now, as an adult, the Secularists scare me just as much as the Soviets once did because of what they will do to our nation if they win their war against religion.