Old Glory flying proudly, the sound of taps dancing in the air and memories of silence embrace the most solemn U.S. national holiday – Memorial Day. It is one day set aside to remember those who paid the ultimate price for our liberty.
Perhaps our first president, George Washington said it best, “Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.”
We don’t often talk about the real meaning of Memorial Day. Most think of it as the opening day of summer. Some head to the beach, others barbeque with friends or watch the Indy 500. Most get a paid holiday and the ability to sleep in. However, few take the time to cherish what this day offers. It offers a chance of remembrance for those who lost their lives fighting in abhorrent conditions in a country far away – away from their loved ones, away from their home.
As America inches further away from the horrors of September 11th, we seem to ponder less of wartime and more about ourselves.
“We are a nation of patriots,” President George W. Bush said after the World Trade Center attacks. “The attacks of September 11th, and the attacks that have followed, were designed to break our spirit. But, instead, they’ve created a new spirit in America. We have a renewed spirit of patriotism. We see it in the countless flags that are flying everywhere in America. We hear it in familiar phases that move us more deeply than ever before.”
Liberty is not free. Liberty often means the sound of silence, the loss of life. Since 9/11 the call to freedom came and thousands of everyday Americans heard the call. Let us not forget them, let us hear their silence.
In an era long ago President Abraham Lincoln said on the battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” We will never forget.
Every American generation has heard the call, all have fought honorably and some lost it all. We will never forget.
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty,” John F. Kennedy said.
Our great nation doesn’t often get the praise it deserves. But let us not forget that we are that shining beacon of hope. We are the most compassionate nation. Let’s remember what our Founding Fathers wanted when they embarked on their New World experiment. They wanted freedom and liberty for all.
“A people free to choose, will always choose peace,” said Ronald Reagan. “Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.” We will never forget.
It seems that our modern-day wars are fought in honor of allies. Americans give their lives and treasure to bring liberty to those who are unable to attain it on their own. “Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government,” Thomas Jefferson said. We will never forget.
“We must remember that many who served in our military never lived to be called veterans. We must remember many had their lives changed forever by experiences or the injuries of combat. All veterans are examples of service and citizenship for every American to remember and to follow,” President George W. Bush said, Oct. 30, 2001.
Indeed we are Americans. We sing a National Anthem and say our Pledge of Allegiance with a heart-felt passion – always remembering – never forgetting.
“Let freedom ring, let freedom ring,” says Martin Luther King Jr.
We will remember their silence.