It’s become almost common place for some people to call patriotism arrogant, nationalist or jingoistic. They say that people use patriotism as a political weapon.
This weekend, it was lovely to see many who didn’t flinch at the idea of appearing patriotic. Many citizens assisted in decorating the graves of fallen veterans and witnessing as apolitical groups like the American Legion and the Veterans for Foreign Wars performed sacred ceremonies honoring the sacrificing of the men and women who served before them.
It is fitting to honor true patriots on Memorial day.
Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called Memorial Day, “our most respected holiday,” and urged that “we not ponder with sad thoughts the passing of our heroes but rather ponder their legacy – the life they made possible for us by their commitment and pain.”
At its core, Memorial Day has always commemorated the universal all-encompassing understanding of, “No greater love than this does any man have, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
President Lincoln put their sacrifice into perspective at the battlefield in Gettysburg when he said, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”
After the terrorists struck us on 9/11, America was changed. Our all-volunteer force responded. People with comfortable jobs left their towns and deployed with their Reserve and Guard units. Some even joined the active-duty forces. The existing military responded in its typical heroic fashion, overthrowing a tyrannical regime in Afghanistan and battling ruthless insurgents in Iraq. Thousands gave their lives.
The call to freedom came and they answered. Just as their predecessors in the two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Beirut, Grenada, and the Persian Gulf, the War on Terrorism was fought by ordinary Americans making extraordinary sacrifices.
Memorial Day is not about trips to the beach or sporting events. It’s not about politics. It’s about people who have decided that the United States is worth dying for. It’s about patriots.
We thank those who serve and continue to serve as we remembered those who died in service to our country this past weekend.
And still, there are more who deserve words of praise – those who took time this weekend to pay tribute to their sacrifices. We also thank those who took time this weekend to honor those who served and died for our country.