Sunday, May 29, 2011
This annual observation, first begun in 1866, has seen times in which it was a solemn day of remembrance, a day of ceremonies, parades, and services, recalling the fallen heroes of our society who gave their last full measure of devotion so that the rest of us might enjoy the fruits of liberty. But it has also seen times in which barely anyone paid heed to what the day was about choosing instead, to turn it into a celebration of summer while the once cherished dead lay quietly, unnoticed. The politics of the time often determined the degree to which Americans honored their fallen warriors.
In spite of this history, it is imperative in this day and age, a time in which the United States of America is engaged in two wars while supporting military actions carried out by NATO in Libya, to remember the dead of our wars.
We must remember and honor the sacrifices made by countless families as loved ones marched off to battle only to lose them in the brutality of war. We remember, too, those who feel on the field but did not succumb to their wounds, returning home broken physically and often mentally, a result of their service to us. We remember the mother whose heart was pierced as the ominous black vehicle swung around the corner and pulled to a stop in front of her house with two men delivering a message of horror no parent ever wants to hear. We remember the children who grow up never to know the father or mother who gave them life. We remember the neighborhood kid who never seemed extraordinary in anything he ever did, that is until he entered the service and became a hero through his brave actions under fire.
We must be a grateful nation for all of those who have been willing to sacrifice everything, if necessary, to preserve and protect the greatest republic the world has ever known. We must thank them by coming together as a nation, setting aside all political rancor while tackling the monumental issues confronting our society. We must stand up for our beliefs, but to honor those brave men and women who have given their all in service to us, we must be willing to do what is necessary for the common good of the people so that liberty and justice will continue to be the foundation of this country.
We let freedom ring every time we come together as a community to lend a helping hand to those who, like the citizens of Joplin, MO, have had their lives devastated by a natural disaster. We proclaim liberty throughout the land every time we write a leader with our ideas and criticisms of what they are doing. We promote democracy every time we invite all who are Americans into a vigorous, yet respectful, dialogue about the issues that confront this nation. And we honor our fallen troops every time we remember these shinning examples of what it means to be an American in our thoughts and prayers.
We have been given a great gift in the form of the United States of America. God has showered His bounty upon us but that bounty has come with a high price tag. We do not take this lightly, nor should we forget those who have taken up the challenge of defending freedom with their very lives.
And so, on this one hundred forty-fifth anniversary of the observation of Memorial Day, we pause to say thank you and may God bless you all who have given their lives as payment for our freedom!