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Letters to the Editor | The Press and Standard

by | April 30, 2017 5:00 pm

Last Updated: April 26, 2017 at 4:08 pm

The meaning of Memorial Day

Dear Editor:

The whole world should stop and honor America’s fallen heroes on Memorial Day, in honor of the brave men and women who gave their lives for others. It is a fact that American blood has been spilled in every country on the planet as we fought to save their freedom.

Memorial Day should not only be about picnics and ball games. On this most solemn holiday, we need to stop and consider the great sacrifices that others have made so that we have the freedom and prosperity we enjoy. Let us remember what those valiant warriors died for — and let us honor each and every one of them with a prayer and a pledge to protect the freedom of America and recall the honor, morality, values and love of God for which they gave their lives. Their true memorial is the nation and culture we create and grow from their sacrifices.

Are we really giving them the recognition they deserve? The New Testament tells us that there is no greater love than to give your life for another. Our fallen comrades gave their all and that is what Memorial Day is all about.

President Abraham Lincoln gave possibly the best Memorial Day recognition during his Gettysburg Address: “We are met on a great battlefield of that 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. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“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. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus 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 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.”

It is easy for me to remember and celebrate Memorial Day because my father was killed in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. As a child, I remember visiting his grave on Memorial Day and seeing many people placing flowers on the graves of their loved ones. Today, Memorial Day, like Veterans Day, is losing its importance in our everyday lives. The danger is that as the loss of our observance grows, the more likely the meaning and reason for the holiday will be lost. How can our children and grandchildren understand where their freedoms came from and how many sacrificed their lives to protect their future freedoms? This is the honored history of America. It should be told.

By John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.

Short days ago
we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw
the torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Noel Ison


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