Memorial Day 2020: Have those who Fought for Freedom, Died in Vain?
By Dennis Jamison, May 25, 2020
In recent years, Memorial Day in the United States was just another holiday for American citizens to enjoy fun things people did over the three-day holiday weekend, which also marked the unofficial commencement of summertime. It was not considered too seriously across the social spectrum. This year is different. This year citizens are coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic, the various reactions to the virus and repercussions, and realities in states where Big Brother is cracking down on conservatives, and patriots, and people of faith, for the sake of “public health and safety.”
Memorial Day was born from the ashes and loss from the American Civil War
Indeed, Memorial Day this year may be taken much more seriously across the nation—possibly as serious as it was long, long ago. Memorial Day is actually a day to honor the dead. Yet, like the topic of death itself, Memorial Day tends to conjure up issues people would rather not discuss. It used to be easier to throw a party, a barbeque, or take an early mini-vacation as a way of celebrating a three-day holiday with family and friends. Thinking about the deeper meaning of Memorial Day was difficult. If taken seriously, as in days long past, it was a day to honor those who offered their lives for the sake of a higher cause.
If taken in a serious way, the original purpose of Memorial Day was meant to grapple with the painful experience of the nation’s massive loss of life. Memorial Day was born from the ashes and loss from the American Civil War. Sadly, over 620,000 men and boys died in the Civil War. The incredibly painful reality of the loss of so many men and boys prompted the Veteran’s Association to implement “Decoration Day,” to honor all Union soldiers “who… gave their lives that the nation might live…” It was a practical means for families and survivors to officially mourn and honor lost family and loved ones.
Today, in the midst of the COVID-19 assault upon the world, the U.S. death toll is close to 100,000 American lives. The statistics do not do justice to the loss of a loved one’s life in such a time. The sobering circumstances should give people of conscience a genuine reason to pause and consider the value of life itself. This is what happened in the wake of the Civil War. Today, in the midst of COVID-19, men and women who truly recognize the value of life should take the time to pause and consider the value of life itself. Yet, in deepest sincerity, it is also a time to recognize the difference between those who gave their lives willingly to those who died as victims of disease.
From the moment of the “shot heard ’round the world” to the “War on Terrorism,” American patriots have been willing to take up arms to fight for freedom
Ultimately, Memorial Day continues to represent a day to remember and to honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in service to their country. The day was meant to be a day of remembrance to deal with the void from such a massive loss of human lives. Yet, years beyond America’s potential self destruction, citizens were willing to give their lives for the sake of other people’s freedom even on distant battlefields on foreign soil. In fact, from the moment of the “shot heard ’round the world” to the “War on Terrorism,” American patriots have been willing to take up arms to fight for freedom.
In their own day, brave and brilliant men gave their lives that this nation might be born. In their own day, Union soldiers sacrificed their lives so the nation could survive. Through much of American history, brave and brilliant men and women, in their own day, could heed the call to defend and protect Freedom. However in recent years, since the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Americans have been confused with mixed meanings of freedom. Others have sought to define freedom for us, and citizens have doubted our bedrock values. From the days of the Vietnam War and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Americans have drifted once again into serious division.
Today, America is obviously divided. And as Abraham Lincoln said, in quoting Jesus, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” It is true. Yet, it is also quite true that America resolved one of its deepest contradictions: slavery. Abraham Lincoln knew that the problem of slavery had to be rectified, but it came at great cost. And, his impassioned veneration of the Union patriots in his Gettysburg Address has reverberated through the ages. Yet now, his true sentiments need to be taken up once again, as citizens need to remember why Memorial Day is important:
Are Americans not in a civil war?
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that the nation might live…
But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract… It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased 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…
Yet, what of today? Are Americans not in a civil war? Are Socialists not testing whether this nation, “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…” will continue to endure? Will Americans take up the unfinished work, so nobly advanced in years past? Is it not for us, living in this time, to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from all of America’s honored dead, we take increased devotion – to resolve that those who gave their lives shall not have died in vain? Did they die only to see this generation allow freedom to die? Will this nation, under God, have a new birth of freedom? Or, will evil triumph because good men and women could not sense the value of sacrificing one’s self for the sake of the future?