Saturday, May 30, 2009
[1431 - Joan of Arc (age 19) is burned as a witch by English at Rouen]
A Day to Remember
Today is the Memorial Day that many of us grew up with. It was not until the early '70s that Congress decided that we would celebrate this day of public remembrance on the last Monday in May to increase the tally of three-day weekends so we could all go to the malls and buy more stuff that we didn't really need. A small but hardy band of individuals and organizations continue to oppose that change with some valid points.
If one traces the history of this holiday, it is hard not to sympathize with the dissenters who say we have lost the meaning and purpose of the day in a rush to commercialize it. In the period following our Civil War, with the carnage still fresh in the memory of the nation, a day in which to visit and tend the graves of the fallen began on a modest scale as Decoration Day. Over the years the concept expanded into a national holiday during which homage was to be paid to all those who had given their lives for the Country.
Listening to the rhetoric about Memorial Day 2009 one hears that, from the Commander in Chief on down, our leaders have missed its point. As a time for the nation to honor the ultimate sacrifice made by millions of citizens so that the rest of us can enjoy freedom and comfort, Memorial Day is appropriate. As a time for society to reflect on the horrors of war and the price paid for past failures to solve political disputes without bloodshed, therein lies the lesson of the day. To use the day to glorify military service, and as an excuse for another exhortation to 'support the troops,' stands the true meaning of Memorial Day on its head.
William's Whimsical Words:
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Last updated on May 30, 2009