Vol: 164 Issue: 23 Saturday, May 23, 2015
Memorial Day is a celebration of freedom and those that defend it. We celebrate with heavy overdoses of all things American, fireworks, hot dogs, BBQs, picnics, baseball games and so on.
The fireworks are to remind us that freedom doesn’t come without a fight and the overindulgence in Americana is to honor those that missed the party because they had to pay for it.
Memorial Day isn’t a just the official kick-off of the summer season or an excuse for a long weekend. It is a day set aside by an Act of Congress in 1971 to honor the veterans of American wars.
Before that, it was called ‘Decoration Day’ since it was first proclaimed by the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.
In 1868, General John Logan ordered that the graves of the Civil War dead interred at Arlington national cemetery be decorated with flowers to commemorate their sacrifice.
His order included both Union and Confederate war dead. No matter which side they fought on, they were all American.
In recent years, the purposes of Memorial Day have taken second place to the party aspect — it is more a celebration of summer and less a celebration of freedom and hardly at all about honoring our war dead.
Many of the graves of the fallen are ignored. In those places in America where flying Old Glory isn’t either illegal or forbidden, proper flag etiquette protocols call for flying the flag at half-mast until noon to symbolize a nation in mourning.
In one of the last acts and few shining moments of his presidency, Bill Clinton issued Official White House Memorandum asking all Americans to pause for one minute at 3 PM on Memorial Day to reflect on the price paid by our fellow citizens for our continued freedom.
In part, the Memorandum states:
“Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. While we should honor these heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to securing our Nation’s freedom, we should honor them especially on Memorial Day.”
Evidently, one day of national reverence is too much for the current White House. On Memorial Day, Vice President Joe Biden will lay the wreath at Arlington National Cemetery on the President’s behalf.
The president has a scheduling confict — he’s on vacation in Chicago. (2010)
The dictionary defines ‘honor’ as: “the reputation, self-perception or moral identity of an individual or of a group.”
This weekend is not just the beginning of summer. It is set aside to honor those who make the supreme sacrifice on your behalf. It is a time set aside to pray for those who protect us from harm. It is a time for us to love those who loved us with a love beyond human comprehension.
This weekend, as in past Memorial Day weekends, the networks will be re-running all those great old WWII propaganda movies.
The ones where the Nazis and Imperial Japanese were evil personified and the American GI is depicted as a salt-of-the-earth guy forced to put down his plowshare to reluctantly pick up a gun and defend his country.
They were called ‘propaganda’ movies and they might have been, but the propaganda message was that America was worth dying for.
They are stories from a bygone era about a nation united, strong and free. We don’t see those kinds of stories anymore.
Duty. Honor. Country. These are things worth memorializing.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)