The weekend that signals the official beginning of the summer of 2010 is upon us.
We have no idea what this summer will hold for all of us, for our nation, or for the community of man.
After all, it is impossible to know what lies ahead before it happens.
The holiday memorializing America’s battlefield dead as the weekend we celebrate the coming of summer is par for the course in modern America.
As a nation, we take so much for granted.
How, we wonder, did the weekend announcing the arrival of summer supplant the solemn day when we are to honor the battlefield dead?
It was gradual.
Memories fade. After many years, even the wars that were fought become more of a post script to our evolving history.
We, the living, largely take for granted the ultimate sacrifice made by those who gave their lives in the service of this nation.
The brave continue to die on faraway battlefields in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
More than 50,000 died in Vietnam.
Thousands died in Korea.
Hundreds of thousands died in World War II and World War I – and if we go back in time to the Civil War, we find that bravery has no time limits or defined geography.
Abraham Lincoln’s immortal words at the dedication of the Gettysburg Battlefield site in November, 1863 sum up how we should be feeling as the summer of 2010 is set to begin.
“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
How did we ever morph from all of this type of grandeur, high mindedness and memorialization to a Monday holiday where the battlefield is the beach or the highway, and the weapons we use are grills and automobiles?
Monday is time to remember the battlefield dead.
Frankly, it is always a time to recall the ultimate sacrifice made by those who gave their lives for this nation.
We should never forget what was given by the nation’s battlefield dead.
Memorial Day should always be exactly what it was named for: the one day of the year when those of us who love this nation say thank you and recall the lives of those who were left behind in battle.