In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday in May, echoing the words and sentiments of the proclamation of General John A. Logan of the grand Army of the Republic in 1868 who stated:
“Memorial Day is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion (the Civil War) and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet, church yard in the land.”
So it is that the primary purpose of Memorial Day is to strew with flowers literally and figuratively the graves and memories of America’s daring defenders. They the fallen died for freedom, liberty, for America, for us, for YOU AND ME. We were asked to remember those who died in the great American Civil War, but the day to remember now incorporates all who have given lives in defense of our country. Far too many wars, my fellow Americans, and far too many fallen defenders by the millions who believed in America, and in its fundamental principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all mankind. How grateful we should be.
We are descendants or contemporaries of patriots, men and women who cherish freedom and were willing to fight and die to defend it if necessary. These warriors lived by the words of Patrick Henry who said:
GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH.
Our nation was formed in the fight for freedom for there was no life worthwhile without it. There came our great Constitution and our incredible BILL OF RIGHTS, the rights and freedom amendments which are the finest in the history of mankind. But no matter the origin, it seems as though in so many ways the passion for freedom may have been lost today as they once had it. We seem to take for granted what they died for. And the courage they the fallen had seems lost today in so many ways and the change in our country, produces in so many ways an America in decline, at least politically, philosophically and certainly passionately. Our ancestors fought for the Constitution, for the Bill of Rights and the freedoms those now 27 Amendments allow us. They were ready to die for them, but we the current people allow them to be watered down, interpreted away and often ignored without the fight or conviction to protect and defend them. Perhaps the freedoms of Patrick Henry are giving way to a slow but sure death. Perhaps we have failed to meet the challenge of Ben Franklin who told us that the Republic they created for us was a marvelous way of government IF we could keep it. I wonder if we can.
So, in the midst of barbeques and baseball, it is so healthy to look back and remember. Remember a George Washington, a general, a leader, a President, a warrior, a patriot. Or a Paul Revere who rode the land warning that the enemy was coming, sounding the alarm. It seems as though we need more Paul Reveres, warning us that enemies to our Constitution and way of life are coming, and in fact are HERE. We the people should be ever mindful of the threats and sound the alarm as he did, like those who energized our country once before, THE BOSTON TEA PARTY PATRIOTS and the revolution their courageous acts energized and inspired. They took a stand against taxes and so must we. Ours continue to rise, and rise to the point of confiscation and nothing but nothing destroys freedom like taxes. President John Adams reminded us that the two killers of liberty are slavery and debt. The debt of confiscatory taxation strangles freedom and that is happening at an incredibly rapid pace today. Shame on us.
It is hard for us to think back and remember the early days in America when slavery, slavery was a way of life in America to our great shame and embarrassment. We the moderns find that inconceivable, and the practice of slavery of any kind abhorrent, do we not? Right-thinking men and women fought and fell to rid America of the scourge of slavery, God bless them.
And to rid the world of despots like Hitler, evil to the core, Mussolini and those who in war would destroy the freedom and liberty of all. God bless them.
There can hardly be a family anywhere in America which has not laid a son or daughter on the altar of freedom. So many fought and fell, lives given willingly for us in war after war. And there were those who supported those who fought. We honor them. Many of our warriors and defenders came home hurt and damaged in body or mind perhaps for a lifetime. On Memorial Day, we honor these veterans of wars, these HEROES, these wounded warriors who gave us our freedom:
WE OWE THEM!
A debt we can never repay. To honor them is the least we can do, to thank them as we remember and as we encounter those in our military who follow after them. We should help and support them. They lived and died for what they believed. Whenever I encounter a member of our military, I thank them for what they did and what they do for our great country, for me, and for you, and for my friends and loved ones and all Americans whether I know them or not. But I really do know them for I know what is in their hearts and minds and I know they love America as much as I do. I will salute them as a sign of respect. I wish them to know that I will always be grateful for everything they do for me and the America I love. Perhaps YOU should do the same, not on one Memorial Day, but all days. They the heroes and defenders are the very best of us.
God bless them.
Memorial Day is always celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery, a very special place, a burial site for some of America’s bravest. At 3 PM on that Monday, a very special ceremony occurs and each grave is decorated with a small American flag. The highlight of the celebration is a speech in honor of these brave men and women from the President or Vice President of the United States honoring their contributions to America and laying a wreath at the tomb of The Unknown Soldier. That tomb represents tens of thousands of other unknown soldiers who gave their lives in service to our country, but in death never got the recognition and respect they so justly deserved. Do remember them, my fellow Americans, do remember them as well on Memorial Day as there may be no one else, no loved one, no friend or family to do so. And as you do remember these American heroes, thank our God, the God who blesses America for all those who gave so much for us. They allowed us to be parents, to have and enjoy family, they allowed us to be workers and fully participate in the great opportunities America offers. THEY allowed us to be all that we can be because our soldiers, they were determined to be all they could be. Have a special place in your heart all week for any loved one, family or friend of yours who should be MEMORIALIZED AND REMEMBERED this day and always.
And, as we pay tribute and remember, let us become better citizens of this great country, ready more than ever to preserve, protect and defend all it stands for, all of our blessed and precious freedoms which exist like there are nowhere else in the world. Let us stand for what is right with actions, protests, town meetings, marches, debate, fact and truth at work, counteracting government spin and disinformation. Let us stand tall for the right, for truth, for all things moral and valuable. Let us resolve, we the people, we who own and control this country to do our job as citizens far better. And remember to cherish and exercise the greatest privilege which every American has. That is:
There is no more powerful weapon than the vote of the American citizen. It is the most precious Constitutional right we have and for which our forefathers fought and died. Let us make certain that we vote for those to represent us who so passionately believe in these very special freedoms as we do, and they the fallen did. It is only then, when we do our part, day in and day out, that we would have the right to say with conviction and passion as our forefathers did:
GOD BLESS AMERICA
For that can not happen unless we the people do what is right, remembering whom and what went before and committing with conviction to follow in their footsteps. These men and women died for GOD AND COUNTRY and for you and me in the never-ending fight to protect and preserve:
Memorialize their memories Memorial Day and every day!
God bless America and God bless you.