A reflection on Memorial Day Weekend, 2011

The United States Marine Corps War Memorial, Arlingon, Virginia, July 2008 (image courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org)

The Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery, May 1943 (image courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org); The engraving reads "Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God"

“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.”
–President Abraham Lincoln, “The Gettysburg Address”

“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”
–Winston Churchill

As those of us in the United States once again mark the weekend of Memorial Day, I find myself thinking about a common complaint about how Americans view this national holiday weekend. Many Americans complain about how people only seem to talk about picnics, vacations, or cookouts, or watching war movie marathons and the Indianapolis 500, when the holiday is supposed to be about remembering those who have died in the course of military service to our country.

I will not fault anyone for enjoying their long holiday weekend, and I do not believe that any American should feel guilty for doing so. All I would ever ask is that people remember this: From Lexington and Concord to Gettysburg, to Normandy and Iwo Jima, to Kandahar and Fallujah, millions of brave American men and women have paid the ultimate price so that the rest of us would be able to live our lives free from tyranny.

I’m not saying that this country is perfect or that war is a good thing. All I’m saying is that we must all remember that countless people are alive and free today–both in the United States and around the world–because American blood has been spilled for them.

God Bless the men and women, living and dead, of the United States Armed Forces, and God Bless the United States of America.

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