For those who have lost a son or a daughter, a father or a mother, a dear friend or even a neighbor to the ravages of war, Memorial Day is a time to remember and to celebrate the lives of those who are no longer with us.
The battles that take the lives of the brave and the righteous cannot steal the memories we have of them, which we hold dear throughout our time long after they’ve gone.
Memorial Day 2011, above all, has been validated by the death of Osama bin Laden and by the bravery and the boldness of the US Navy Seals and Special Forces members who contributed to this historic operation.
Americans did not celebrate the death of bin Laden the way others around the world celebrated the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. In the places where bin Laden was welcomed, there were cheers for the 3,000 dead in that attack.
Americans cheered for the success of the operation, for the fact that volunteers all wanting to live took the life of an evil mass murderer who didn’t care if he died.
Americans by our nature are not martyrs. We don’t want to be martyrs. We want to live our lives in freedom and let others do the same. The heroes who came in the night to get bin Laden were ready to die but it was not the main order of the day for the operation.
The way we do things, was to make the operation as safe as possible for our soldiers while at the same time to allow them the optimum chance of getting bin Laden while he was asleep if necessary.
On this Memorial Day, Americans will flock to cemeteries to honor the dead from all the wars Americans have served in since we became a nation in 1776.
There are hundreds of thousands who have died in order for us to be the nation that we are today.
And our sons and daughters continue to die in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in Iraq – thousands already – and those wars continue.
On Memorial Day those of us who care stop to remember the battlefield dead, the ultimate sacrifice of those who gave their all and who lost their lives serving their nation.
Memorial Day isn’t about debating whether the wars are right or wrong or should be intensified or ended, it is about sacrifice, death, and remembrance.
Long before there was a Memorial Day, President Abraham Lincoln sent the following letter of condolence to a Mrs. Bixby in Massachusetts, a widow who lost five sons during the Civil War.
The tone of the letter, the passion of the words and the deep feelings expressed are all about what we celebrate on Memorial Day.
The letter went like this:
“I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice on the altar of freedom. Yours very respectfully, A. Lincoln.”
May the battlefield dead rest in peace – and may their sacrifice always be honored by the people of this nation.