Monday, May 30, 2011

What Is Memorial Day For?

For most of us, today is the unofficial first day of summer. It's a day for barbecue and beer and hanging out at the lake, or by the pool, or watching the kids run through the backyard sprinklers. Maybe it's the extra day you needed to get some stuff done around the house. Or maybe it's just a day to relax and be glad you don't have to go to work.

All those are fine things. But they are not what Memorial Day is about.

The world has changed since my childhood. But we are still a long way from a world without war.

As long as there are people and organizations and governments who would impose their will and whims on others by force, others must be willing to resist. By force.

And where force resists force, people die. Violently. Often horribly. Such is the way of war.

We honor those who come home with medals and parades. We meet them at the airport, cheer them, shake their hands. When we learn someone has served, we thank them.

Memorial Day is for those who don't come home. It's our way of remembering our country's sons and daughters who have died violently, often horribly, in our wars. Those for whom love of country, or freedom, or home, or their friends demanded the highest price they could pay. Those who died exhausted, filthy, terrified, and far, far from home.

Those whose blood has purchased our freedom, extended our lease on this dream of a better life, a better world for a little while longer.

Spend a moment today remembering someone you knew who went to war and didn't come back. If you can't think of a name, ask your parents. If they can't, ask your grandparents. If you still can't come up with a name--remember Tommy Folks. Or find another name online. Or go to a military cemetery near you and spend fifteen minutes walking among the gravestones. Plant a flag at one. Let our war dead know, let their families know, that we honor their sacrifice.

It's worth a few minutes of your time.

You can learn more about Memorial Day at this site:


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