Memorial Day Cognitive Dissonance

Lincoln Watercolor

This weekend I’ve been thinking about that moment when a young Marine handed the flag from my dad’s casket, folded into a triangle to my mother. How much more painful must it be when the deceased had fallen in combat, on active duty, rather than sixty years later in a hospital bed? God bless the families of our veterans & active service personnel.

Here are some things to think about on Memorial Day.

What’s the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day? What are other national holidays supposed to be about? Flag Day, Armed Forces Day, Independence Day, & Patriots Day?

Every Memorial Day the American Legion and VFW have students read or recite Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. This is fitting since he gave it at the dedication of a memorial cemetery. Have you ever considered the meaning of Lincoln’s words?

Try these on for size:

“…testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

So how was this nation conceived*? To what proposition was it dedicated*? Are we still? Are you and I?

(*Lincoln's answers are in the beginning of his address)

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -“

What tasks remain before us?

“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.”

Ask yourself, what work is undone?

that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain –“

Did they die for a 3 day weekend? For camping? Boating? For BBQ or Beer?

Did they die just for nationalism or “patriotism” or “exceptionalism?” For political ideologies or parties? Or for the flag?

that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.”

What was their cause? How dedicated are we to that same cause?
Finally, so how can we best honor those who gave their last full measure of devotion to their cause?




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