All in all we owe a debt to those who have given us freedom that we cannot repay to them. Sometimes when I contrast the devotion of those who sacrificed, to the profligate use of the freedom we have inherited, it worries me that we are squandering what took so great a price to confer. We owe more to those who died to give us freedom. We have an obligation to preserve it and hand it down to others as payment to those who sacrificed their lives. Instead we are more interested in government becoming a tool to create financial benefits. Freedom is being purchased away from us using both taxes and debt. When it is gone, you have neither the freedom sold nor financial benefits promised in the sale; as the recently failed Soviet Block has proven for all history.
Memorial Day was established to show respect to our war dead; those who died to protect the freedoms and lives of others. Now it has become a “Hallmark” (as in the card company) day for florists and balloon shops to sell junk to decorate the graves of anyone and everyone. It is now only a national day to remember deceased grandmothers and grandfathers.
Adding to the event does not make it better. Instead, it changes the focus from those whose self-sacrifice and devotion to others is remembered, into a general day for the dead. That’s too bad. I wish the focus remained narrow. Those whose lives are currently in jeopardy should know that should they pay the ultimate sacrifice of their lives the nation will honor them.
I lost ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary War. Two great-great uncles (Owen and Paul) died during the first weeks of the Civil War in Northern Virginia. My father fought and survived D-Day, and served during the Korean War as well. He died in the 1990’s, but is a veteran of combat and was honored at his burial by an honor guard and a flag-draped coffin. I still have the folded flag presented by the honor guard to my mother.
There is someone in my home town who goes to my father’s grave and puts an American flag on it every Memorial Day. I do not know who it is and have never been there during Memorial Day. However, I know it happens and I appreciate that someone knows he served his country while under German fire.
There is a family tradition that one of my ancestors was in Valley Forge. I have not been able to confirm that. They didn’t keep good records, but after the nation was established it was possible for veterans to apply for land grants to honor their service. Those who applied for land grants were better documented. Still, I haven’t been able to confirm the tradition.