I don’t know why we offer a wish of Happiness on Memorial Day, unless it is to balance out the despair we should feel over the loss of our friends and family over the years on the field of battle. I don’t mean to sound morose, but it seems like a day like today should be entered into with quiet respect for the sacrifices of the dead and the living, both those who served and their families.
Many of us, I believe, do not spend this day contemplating the things that this day is meant to make us think about. For most of us, this is a day off of work, an opportunity to spend time with our families, to hold a picnic or just do nothing because, well, there’s nothing for us to do. Basically, we enjoy to the fullest the very freedom that others have worked so hard to secure for us, without a whimper of acknowledgement of the price paid for our present joy.
Meanwhile, today is just another day of empty activity for families whose loved ones are on active duty somewhere around the world. Or enduring the pain of knowing that someone is not coming home, ever. There are people who have come home, have not died, but are enduring the struggle of injuries, lost limbs, PTSD, the struggle of regaining the important relationships in their lives only to find them crushed under the weight of any number of stresses caused by their experience, or the loss of employment.
I am no fan of war, but there are times when it is necessary. I appreciate and admire the incredible love of those who think I and other like me are important enough to die for. We must never forget the risk and sacrifices faced by our brothers and sisters who have and still do serve our country in the armed services. Since 1775, the willingness to stand in harms way and die for the love of others and the spirit of our nation has been the hallmark of those who protect us from evil. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, (and we should add Police and Fire Protection) all stand in the gap so that the rest of us may live in peace and freedom.
I don’t expect the words I share to press you or anyone to disband the joys of today… they are hardly adequate to such a task, and to some extent, we do need to enjoy the good things that others have made possible for us, or else they have sacrificed in vain. But I urge you to stop, thank God for incredible good he has given us through the selflessness of others, and pray for those who need encouragement today.
This video is President Reagan’s remarks at the 1984 Memorial Day Ceremony and Funeral for the Vietnam Unknown Soldier. Take the time to watch this.
Text of the remarks are found here: http://buff.ly/1WSLau7