Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day / My Thoughts

Today, Memorial Day, I hung out my American Flag.  It is a small token of remembrance.  I wish there were flags flying from every residence, but this morning I’ve seen very few.  Exhibiting patriotism has become somewhat stodgy in our current culture; I’m sad to say.  Patriotism is often now equated with militarism, which is not the case.  But, this is what we are now taught.  This is what we’ve become.

For some Americans, this holiday is a day for barbecues and a few 'brewskies.'  Little thought is given to the true meaning of Memorial Day.  It is, however, the day we honor the military men and women who gave their lives to protect our freedoms.

This holiday should not be confused with Veterans’ Day – a holiday to honor those who served in the military.

Memorial Day was first dedicated as a federal holiday shortly after the Civil War, initially known as Decoration Day.  It was in remembrance of all those soldiers, North and South, who gave their lives for a cause they believed in.  Some say that cause was states’ rights, some say to preserve the Union, some say to free the slaves.  Most of those who gave their lives died to protect their comrades, families and their way of life.

On November 19th, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave one of the greatest speeches this Country has ever known, the Gettysburg Address.  In my day, high school students were required to memorize Lincoln’s speech.  I doubt that current high school students do the same.  Anyway, here it is.  Please take the time to read it once again and think about the words.  The speech’s message is applicable today.

True Nelson

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”         Abraham Lincoln

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