Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day

Please take a few minutes to read this! Someone where I work wrote this and I thought it was a great idea to send this out, just as a reminder of the true meaning of Memorial Day. ( I got permission to pass this along.)

This long weekend taps will play at gravesites around the world honoring our nation’s fallen heroes. At Arlington National Cemetery, small American flags will wave over the hallowed ground where more than 300,000 patriots are interred. There and at other sacred burial grounds, the bodies of Revolutionary War veterans rest near modern soldiers in freshly dug graves stained with their families’ recent tears. In years to come, new residents will crowd those now at rest.

Our freedoms are not free. They have been paid for with human blood and magnificent sacrifice. Known first as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is our country’s most solemn holiday. It honors those who perished for the rest of us in the service of their country. Most were common folk, with no lust for glory. But they responded, whether out of higher duty or swept up by fate, with collective acts that have preserved our republic. And they responded in individual acts that should shame us from complacency.

At the risk of high treason our founding fathers established the United States on a revolutionary concept—citizens do not derive rights from their King or government. Instead, they declared for all to witness, we are born with certain inalienable rights and we citizens grant such limited rights to government as we choose. The American colonies’ gentry, merchants, farmers and backwoodsmen prevailed against the most powerful military then existing, fighting for principles they believed worth dying for. The same is true today in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the globe, wherever brave, and often scared, soldiers carry our banner.

We can debate the morality of our wars, but not the nobility of those who gave their lives in them. Because of them, we have been relieved from the oppression of the Crown, the inhumanity of slavery and the threat of foreign domination. For much of the 20th Century our patriots died engaged against the tyranny of fascism and the promise of communism to bury us. Now they die confronting the faceless horror of terrorism.

Every Sunday morning on ABC’s This Week, in a feature called In Memoriam, the names of prominent Americans who recently died are scrolled across the screen. At the end of every list are the names, ages and hometowns of service members killed since the last show. I sometimes wonder what my perspective would be if one of the rolling names belonged to someone I loved. In 1944 my dad was blown out of a foxhole near the Belgium border, but though seriously injured, he survived to tell stories about liberating France. In contrast, my cousin has only a yellowed stark telegram informing that his father’s plane went down in a mission over Germany. The cousin never quite got over the loss—however heroic, war deaths are an abrupt finality, leaving a vacuum where there was once a life.

Outside my office door hangs an American flag hung the day after September 11, 2001. Although it needs to be cleaned and pressed, it reminds all who pass by that for 234 years we have honored, defended and preserved our freedoms. Memorial Day 2010 is a national holiday because more than 1,300,000 American men and women have committed the ultimate act of unselfishness so that we can live under the umbrella of liberty. This weekend, somewhere between the fun and the hot dogs, remember for whom the bugles play.


Kylee said...

Very good! Go take a look at the pioneer womans photography section.

She has pictures up of soldiers coming home, it moved me to tears several times.

Lourie said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

cheri said...

very beautifully written. this drives the point home.

from sits :)

Brittany said...

How beautiful! This has been on my mind all week, thanks for posting this!

Stephanie said...

gave me goosebumps! :) thanks for sharing.

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