Recently, while covering the premier of a military documentary, I encountered a woman who I assumed (like me) was wearing a loved one’s dog tags, except hers were a highly polished piece of jewelry.
It wasn’t just any jewelry. She was the founder of a company that crafted PeaceTags – a dog-tag shaped pendant inscribed with a quotation about peace. Quotes come from notable sources like Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt, the Dalai Lama and the Bible. The PeaceTag is meant to be a reminder of servicemembers still in harm’s way. A reminder of those who were injured. A reminder of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
As a military spouse and a military journalist working for a military newspaper that serves Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I have been thinking that the PeaceTag is also a symbol for a conversation we as a nation need to have about this ongoing war, what it really represents, and the true purpose of it.
To my way of thinking, even if you are opposed to our troops’ mission, isn’t the end result the same? Theses servicemembers are fighting for peace. They are fighting for the very rights we cherish. They are fighting so you have the freedom to oppose the war. They are fighting to give that gift to the disenfranchised citizens of other nations.
So the quote I chose for my PeaceTag represents who I am and what my husband—who has serve 25 years in the Army and is currently deployed--stands for. I settled on the Buddha’s quote because it acts as my 'bridge'. It reads, “Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace,”- Shakyamuni Buddha, 560-483 B.C.
I am for peace and dialogue. Some people think my husband’s career choice opposes my philosophy. I’ve known him for 30 years, and he remains the kindest, most gentle, compassionate and caring person I’ve ever met. He is the same all the time, with everyone.
This PeaceTag bridges the gap between my husband and his career, me and my beliefs, and what we stand for and who we are as a couple. In an interview, the founder of the company told me that the PeaceTag “bridges differences.”
Indeed. My husband and I are about peace. He is fighting for peace. I want to be a change agent for a dialogue about peace. In Buddhism, dialogue – or even a single word – can change the course of anything. I see the PeaceTag as a support for our troops that actively speaks up for peace. Moreover, it shows a different perspective on what has been a complicated issue for epochs.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we military spouses became the catalyst for that kind of dialogue. We could become the change agent to bridge a national conversation?
In the old days, it really did take a village to raise a child. The process of peace -- of creating truly healing words -- takes more than a village. Just don’t let it take an entire generation.
You don’t have to own a PeaceTag, but tell me, what would you use as a conversation starter?
Corinne Lincoln-Pinheiro is an Army spouse and journalist stationed in the Pacific Northwest.