Our internet provider was out of commission throughout town all day yesterday. But I still wanted to write a Memorial Day post even if it’s a day late.
Memorial Day had its beginnings in Decoration Day, begun in the South after the Civil War to honor Confederate War dead. The first official Memorial Day, which honored both Union and Confederate soldiers was May 30, 1868. Since the end of World War I, those who have died in all US wars are honored. (That total is now over 1.5 million.)Last year I was privileged to attend Memorial Day remembrances at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (commonly called Punchbowl Cemetery) in Honolulu. The flags of every state, organizations bearing floral wreaths and speeches by national political figures all added to a meaningful morning.
This year I was back in my small Nevada town. Memorial Day here means snacks from the ladies of the VFW, a youth color guard from the Civil Air Patrol and a cannon fired by Civil War re-enactors in uniform.
The pomp of a national level remembrance shows high honor for the military dead. The small town ceremonies show the heart and soul of the day. Both are important in different ways. And both make me proud to live here.
It’s easy to take our freedoms for granted as we peacefully go about our days and weeks. But much of the success of the US in many areas (such as technology which allows the indulgence of expressing myself in a blog) is owed to the fact that US residents do not have to fight off enemies who want to take over our land or steal our food. Scientists and inventors can work in safety.
American history tells the story of a generous national spirit that causes us to come to the aid of the oppressed around the world. The Bible says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Our government needs to carefully consider all aspect of a situation before deploying troops and, yes, it costs a lot of money. But we lose some of our humanity if we ignore true suffering. I’m glad that as a country we are not that selfish. The military personnel who willingly carry out that national compassion deserve our thanks and honor. And we owe double thanks and honor to the families who daily feel the loss a soldier or sailor. On Memorial Day, and every other day as well.