Summary: Memorial Day should not be a time for self-congratulation or celebration. What is it about?
Not all the deeds done by our troops have been glorious, nor have all their missions been just or even good. But that is our responsibility, as the citizens of the United States. Our men and women in uniform served this nation. Most contributed their time and energy. Many contributed much more. Some contributed all they had to give.
Speech by President Lincoln
19 November 1863
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 battle-field 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 can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not 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.
Two ways to celebrate Memorial Day
- An effective way to support our Troops: help the Blue Star Mothers of America, 8 June 2008 — There are ways to support our troops, actions more effective than a bumper sticker on your car.
- Support the USO – more effective than a bumper sticker, 5 July 2008 — Another way to support our troops, more effective than a bumper sticker.
For more ideas see the 2014 Memorial Day post: How can we better honor our vets on Memorial Day?
Two other things to remember on Memorial Day
- A crisis at the beginning of the American experiment, 27 December 2008 — Looking at the problems looming before us, it is easy to forget those of equal or greater danger that we have surmounted in the past.
- We have endemic terrorism – but few wars and epidemics. That’s good news!, 15 December 2009
A reminder about Memorial Day, for those who consider it national BBQ day