Since I was 12 years old it’s been called Memorial Day. Decoration Day, as it was originally known, was first observed to decorate the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who died in America’s Civil War. Over time the decorating expanded to honor those who gave their lives during other wars and for some today, it is a family day when all graves of loved ones are decorated whether they died serving in war or not.
Active duty soldiers often rebuff efforts to honor them on this day. If you think about it for even a minute, it’s kind of morbid to try to honor someone walking around alive for dying in combat. If holidays are to have any meaning at all, we need to get it right. It’s about those who died in service. Not your bar-b-que grill skills, sprinklers on the lawn for the kids or current active duty soldiers and veterans still alive.
One of the factors that crosses the mind of any President or Congress who declares war would surely be the reason for the conflict. What will those who die be remembered for protecting? The curse of the Vietnam conflict was the constant protest of the reason for sending our young men to die on foreign soil. Especially as we just packed up and left it to the enemy forces who rained carnage upon those left behind. The soldiers who returned home didn’t even get a proper welcome because of the divided state of the country during those years of conflict in Vietnam and on our college campuses.
It would seem that we are living in another divided era in our country. In spite of threats to our own soldiers and our own shores, some insist that we have nothing to fight for and no reason to rattle our sabers. With nuclear attack against our own people at risk, some who have chained themselves to resistance are bringing the division back into our country again. The relatives of those who died in previous generations must be asking, “And my loved one died for this?”
“Thank you for your service,” was just beginning to roll off our tongues toward those in uniform again. Meals were purchased by fellow diners or offered free by restaurant owners. In this father’s opinion, going back to the protest era and the division and violence of the 1960’s is a step backward I am not willing to take.
I remember Vietnam. I also remember 9/11. When we were attacked on our own soil using innocent passengers of commercial airliners, we were ready to go find the perpetrators and stop their progress against us. We came together and we united. We displayed our flags and sang Lee Greenwood’s song. Today, members of the resistance are trying to get everyone to hate the song we all came to love…just because they don’t like the President who uses it at his rallies.
And they died for this?
The time for division is over. The time to unite has come. Enough resistance. Enough witch hunting. Enough violence and race-baiting and hate-mongering. Let’s remember those who died that we might be free. Free to live in peace. Free to vote our conscience. Free to let the other side have their time after your side loses. Free to be unhappy if you must. But let us be free of the division that caused Decoration Day in the first place. Let us be free of the division that soiled Decoration Day when it was renamed Memorial Day. Let us be free of the efforts to tear down. Build up. Speak constructively or shut up.