Today is the day we have the opportunity to remember those who have died in battle under our country’s flag. For some this day is very poignant because they have lost a loved one in battle, whether it was WWII, or Korea, or Vietnam, or the Gulf Wars, or even in Afghanistan. But for those who have been fortunate not to have gone into battle, Memorial Day presents us with an opportunity to reflect on those who gave their lives to protect their country.
I use the word opportunity because Memorial Day gives us among the living a chance to reflect on what it means to be free. It also should give us pause to ask, “What am I willing to sacrifice?” This is not sacrificing on behalf of an ideology or a political party, but rather what am I willing to do to protect my family and my future generations. Unfortunately in life’s hustle and bustle we, including myself, forget to pause and reflect on this question.
Our country’s founding was one based on sacrifice. The Englishmen that explored this country risked their wealth to come to this strange and new land. The Puritans and those of different faiths risked their safety as well to come to this new land. America represented new opportunities. In the American Revolution, our Founding Fathers risked their wealth and their lives. For the Revolutionary War soldiers, this meant life or a missing limb. Throughout our history various sacrifices have made not only in times of war, but in times of peace as well. However, in the here and now, I wonder how those of us who are in not in active duty or in the reserves would answer that question.
What leaves me pondering is the fact that we as a nation are ignorant of our history. Consistently, college graduates struggle with answering the most basic questions about our history and our government. We as a nation have settled for mediocre leadership on all levels of government. We have politicians, but no statesmen. Our media then tries to anoint any politician as our statesman. In his book, A Free People’s Suicide, Os Guinness wrote that a society’s greatest challenge is to keep the freedoms that they have won. He continues by explaining that this vigilance is tedious, but very essential. Failure to maintain this vigilance will result in the loss of liberty.
Washington DC has been beset by scandals. The matters of Benghazi, the IRS investigating TEA Party activists and other conservative groups, and the wire-tapping scandal of journalists have led to a collective “Ho Hum” from the American public. If these scandals were to have happened between 20 years to 30 years ago, there would have been resignations from cabinet officials to maybe even a President. Yet there is no outrage, no response from the average American. It seems that we have been conditioned by our leaders and the media that this mediocrity in our leaders is normal and par for the course. To make matter worse, we have political endgames such as our fiscal health and immigration. Issues that require patience to develop effective solutions, instead we are met with politicians and special interests group that prefer no solution in order to keep complaining and fill their coffers with donations.
How do we remember those who died for our freedoms and our security? We sacrifice our time to become knowledgeable of the issues that are affecting not only you and your family, but our community as well. We keep our elected officials accountable, not only in town halls, but in the ballot box. We support candidates through your time and your money. But the most important way we honor those who sacrificed their life is to teach your children our history. We are not a perfect nation, but we strive to become that “shinning city on the hill”. Our nation is worth defending and fighting for.
Happy Memorial Day and may God comfort those whose loved ones have paid with their lives our freedom and security.
(2008 Memorial Day Poster #1. Created by Virginia Reyes of the Air Force News Agency. US Air Force Photo by Vance Janes.)