Letters
Letters for 05-26-2016

Pause to remember those who gave all
While millions may celebrate around
the grill or with retail therapy, most
Americans won’t give a thought to the
true purpose of Memorial Day, which
is coming on Monday. To illustrate the
point, we note that many confuse its
intended purpose with that of another
holiday created to honor every man and
woman who served our country, Veterans
Day, held each year on November 11.
We can and should give thanks for their
contribution to our nation every time we
greet a veteran.
Three years after the end of the
bloodiest war in our nation’s history – in
which, sadly, 750,000 Americans died
at the hands of other Americans – Maj.
Gen. John Logan proposed that May 30
be observed as Decoration Day. It was set
aside to honor those who gave their lives
in the War Between the States. It wasn’t
until after World War I that the holiday
was expanded to include all the nation’s
war dead, from the Revolutionary War
that gave birth to our independence
through an effort President Obama has
called a “perpetual war” against terror.
Whether a soldier gives “the last
full measure of devotion,” as Abraham
Lincoln once described, against a nationstate
or an enemy undefined by borders,
the sacrifice remains the same. Many
of us would not be here, if they had not
committed to be over there, at risk of
not coming home.
What began with respectful simplicity
has devolved into a one-day, paid vacation
for many American workers, who
may or may not mark it with even a moment
of silence offered in tribute to our
war dead. One day a year isn’t adequate
for the personal grief felt by many thousands
whose relatives and friends were
felled by war. For most Americans, the
death of their countrymen on foreign
fields is not something they can relate to,
much less offer sustained and mournful
introspection.
Unlike previous wars, the battle Americans
are asked to fight today is against
an opponent who gives no thought at all
to taking the lives of civilians as well as
soldiers.
The sacrifice of those who died in service
to our country, and the deaths that
are unfortunately still yet to come, can
best be commemorated by continuing to
respect America’s place as a world power
and conducting our affairs accordingly.
You mustn’t necessarily be at a grave
site to lay flowers.
And it’s perfectly permissible to honor
someone you never knew.
It’s what we have always done, and
sadly – hopefully – will continue to do.