May 25, 1997
The Lost Holiday
I donít know sacrifice. I will be the first to admit that Iíve been lucky to have a very privileged upbringing, with loving parents, a good education, clothes to wear, food to eat, cars to drive, computers to buy, and so on.
So this Memorial Day, Iíve been doing some thinking. You see, I donít know what itís like to have someone shooting at me. I donít know what it means to liberate a village. I canít conceive of being asked to march for days, shooting and killing people, literally fighting for freedom. Thatís what Memorial Day is all about, right? Weíre paying tribute to those who gave their lives, so that we could have our computers, and our favorite TV shows, and our newspapers, and our liberty. People died so that I could live in comfort, with the freedoms that Americans often take for granted.
Let me use this space, this day, to say thank you. Thank you to the thousands of men and women, of all ages, colors, backgrounds, who worked together in times of war, making sure the American flame burned on.
Two somewhat sad things to think about:
1) Can you imagine anyone today willingly facing the challenges faced by American soldiers in, say, World War Two? I think youíd have a hard time finding volunteers to go overseas and fight in the trenches. Maybe Iím wrong, and a huge surge of patriotism would sweep the land. But I donít think thereís enough pride in our country today to muster the effort we did in successfully beating back the Axis powers in WWII.
2) Is another war what it will take to bring together a divided America? This assumes one very large thing; that America is divided today. I think it is, and I donít know just how to do my part to close the rift. Iím open to suggestions.
So after youíve finished with the barbecues, and the beach trip, and the volleyball, and the sunburn, take a moment to reflect on the real meaning of Memorial Day. Ask yourself what you would be willing to die for. And say "thanks" to the people who traded their life for your liberty.