Memorial Day is to honor those who laid down their lives that others may hold onto Freedom, however imperfect the form
Memorial Day used to be celebrated throughout the United States as a holiday most Americans took advantage of by maximizing the three-day holiday through traveling (if they could afford it) or by simply relaxing in gatherings of family and friends in backyard barbecues or events held locally. The central focus was on spending precious time together with those who matter most.
Unfortunately, after the tragedies on September 11, 2001, Memorial Day took on a whole new meaning for many Americans, especially those who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks on American soil. That day continues to be a demarcation point from which many other events are measured in the “post 9/11 world.” In the aftermath of the horror, the ashes from destroyed and broken lives were strewn throughout the nation. The memories of such devastation left permanent scars.
The essential difference was that Memorial Day was eventually established as a way to honor those Union soldiers who gave their lives that the United States could survive, while those who were murdered on 9/11 were primarily innocent men, women, and children. Actually, that meant nothing to Osama Bin Laden and the terrorists who took innocent lives. While the 9/11 tragedies were an act of war for the global terrorists, most Americans had little clue. However, what does remain in the aftermath is that we are still at war. Yet, most Amerocans are only awakening from cluelessness.
Such a horrific tragedy leaves scars in citizen’s minds and hearts. The two shooting tragedies that shocked the nation recently will leave scars in people’s minds and hearts. Death of any one, especially a loved one, leaves a gaping hole in people’s hearts. Death is a subject that people would rather not have to deal with if it could be avoided. And, much like the topic of death itself, Memorial Day tends to conjure up issues people would rather not discuss. It is much easier to throw a barbeque together and celebrate a Monday holiday in the company of family and good friends than to think about what Memorial Day truly represents.
If taken in this serious way, Memorial Day is not the most pleasant of holidays due to its original and fundamental purpose. It originated as a day to deal with the painful experience of America’s loss of life on a massive scale. Memorial Day was born from the ashes and the incredibly painful experience of the loss of so many men and boys when the nation was at war with itself. In the wake of such a massive loss of life, the Veteran’s Association was challenged to provide a real practical means for the families and survivors to mourn and honor their loved ones and family members in an official manner. Memorial Day continues to represent the day to remember the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in service to their country on some distant or foreign battlefield.
Yet, in light of the present war America is fighting, as the nation is in mourning over the Buffalo and Uvalde shooting tragedies there is genuine mourning for those who lost their lives. And if citizens can empathize with such pain of loss, it is what Americans had to deal with on a much greater scale after our Civil War. So, for those whose hate for the Americans who they view as “the enemy,” do not wish for a Civil War to resolve the problems we are facing, as it would be a devastation one would not easily want to confront. If one is shocked by the Russian – Ukraine conflict, would it be any different in this nation? War is Hell thrusting into the world like a volcano erupting or a devastating tornado or earthquake – only war is man destroying himself.
Once the scope of the horror is understood, the purpose of Memorial Day becomes much more clear. Americans should not lose touch with their heritage. In the midst of that Civil War, within a space dedicated as a final resting place of those who lost their lives in the Battle of Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln expressed the sentiment best when he honored the soldiers who fought and died there in his famous Gettysburg Address. Lincoln serves as our witness to this tumultuous war. In his Gettysburg Address, he provided clarity to the “why” of the war in brief but in cogent points. He gave his perspective on the purpose of that war and on the value of the ultimate sacrifice made by those who “gave their lives that that nation might live…”
Lincoln’s words have continued to ring true through the ages, especially for those who can grasp the deeper meaning of his words. Ironically, in November of 1863, it is apparent from his carefully chosen words in the Gettysburg Address that he was not entirely certain that the Union would prevail. He hints at this three times in this address, carefully referring to the obvious: “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated [conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all were created equal] can long endure.”
In fighting for the foundation, and in setting the cornerstone, many of the founders were also uncertain as to whether such a nation conceived in Liberty could endure very long. They looked upon their efforts as the great “experiment.” This experiment in liberty has only endured due to brilliant and brave men and women who would carry forward the fight for Freedom within a very corrupt and criminally-oriented community of nations, often dominated by evil.
When one is able to navigate beyond the political narratives that justified such governments or other dominions, an intelligent person can see that this nation, conceived in Liberty, was willing to offer its very best to retain and preserve freedom for others in the world. In the history of the world governments, there were once Americans who offered their lives that this nation might be born and to continue to survive. Then, once the nation stabilized, Americans were willing to sacrifice their lives so that freedom could be born, or protected, in other nations.
The first major conflict was what Lincoln witnessed. He so rightly understood the purpose of the great civil war: “testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.” The United States emerged from a deathbed on life support. However, American soldiers did not just die fighting against one another in the Civil War, in that same time, Mexico had been invaded and was taken over by France by 1863. In such a time as that, some Union soldiers were willing to take off their own uniforms and fight on the side of the Mexican people to eliminate French dominion. From such a tumultuous time, America did not only preserve its own freedom, it helped Mexico retain its Freedom.
Memorial Day is a tribute to those men and women who gave the last full measure of their devotion to the fundamental ideals at the core of the founding. Memorial Day is to honor those who laid down their lives that others may hold onto Freedom, however imperfect the form.
Yet today, Americans who love the nation as it was founded must arise to fight for Liberty once again because the nation is once again engaged in a civil war, testing whether this nation or any nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all created equal under God can long endure. True Americans need to highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain and “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…”
Dennis Jamison reinvented his life after working for a multi-billion dollar division of Johnson & Johnson for several years. Currently retired from West Valley College in California, where he taught for nearly 10 years, he now writes articles on history and American freedom for various online publications.
Formerly a contributor to the Communities at the Washington Times and Fairfax Free Citizen, his more current articles appear in Canada Free Press and Communities Digital News. During the 2016 presidential primaries, he was the leader of a network of writers, bloggers, and editors who promoted the candidacy of Dr. Ben Carson. Jamison founded “We the People” – Patriots, Pilgrims, Prophets Writers’ Network and the Citizen Sentinels Network. Both are volunteer groups for grassroots citizen-journalists and activists intent on promoting and preserving the inviolable God-given freedoms rooted in the founding documents.
Jamison also co-founded RedAmericaConsulting to identify, counsel, and support citizen-candidates, who may not have much campaign money, but whose beliefs and deeds reflect the role of public servants rather than power-hungry politicians.