“The patriot’s blood is the seed of freedom’s tree.”– Thomas Campbell
“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” — Calvin Coolidge
“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” — Billy Graham
“Veterans are a symbol of what makes our nation great, and we must never forget all they have done to ensure our freedom.” Rodney Frelinghuysen
This week, we not so much celebrate Memorial Day, as we deliberate it. If we are not careful, we will find ourselves celebrating a paid day off, discounts at big box stores and picnics with friends, but then missing the value of such an important day for our nation, a day for remembering those who gave their lives for our freedoms. I have few qualms with getting together with family and friends to enjoy a unique and special day. I am sure not all feel the same way, but having served our nation in combat zones around the world much of my adult life, it has not gone unnoticed to me that this is partially why soldiers fight; so that we as Americans can enjoy the life God has given us and celebrate at a park or at home with little fear that someone might take away that privilege. As a father, son and grand dad, I consider it a great privilege to have risked my life for those who I care deeply about.
It is really easy for us to miss this! We seldom expose ourselves to those around the world who go to bed hungry, wake up in anxiousness and walk through the course of their day in a constant state of fear for what lies around the next corner…. poverty, sickness, violence of every kind and death. Even as I write this, it would be easy for you, having never really seen it, to say this is just a conspiracy theory. I get it. I will be happy to take you to a hundred places tomorrow, to visit people who live in this kind of world. American young men and women sacrifice their lives so that you and I can sleep without fear of aggression against us.
As George Orwell said with unminced words, “People sleep peacefully in their beds only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, referencing the early tradition of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths, and flags. This holiday has roots dating back to the post-Civil War era. New York was the first state to recognize the holiday in 1873 and at the time it was a day to honor those who died fighting in the Civil War. After World War I, the holiday changed to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war. Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971.
This is such an important day for us as Americans. It is a day to remember. Let us replace our futile pursuits of pleasure with glorious memories of men and women who have given their everything so that we can live, and live in peace and safety.