The Memorial Day established in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln is gradually fading into history. It was meant to establish into our national memory the sacrifice of thousands of sons and daughters who gave their lives in service to their country in peace and war.
As a child, I remember a few blue-clad veterans proudly marching down Main Street in the Memorial Day parade. Nearly a million died in the Civil War. This year, only a few World War II veterans remain of the 16 million Americans who fought in that conflict. Check the obituary columns and note how fast they are passing.
Perhaps it is time to recognize that our real enemy is war itself. Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan should have taught us how easily we drift into war, even without congressional approval. We hardly pause to reflect on the huge losses in human life and treasure we suffer under.
Few political leaders have admitted these unfunded wars are the cause of our huge debt and spiritual demise. The Pentagon budget seems exempt, while the 50 million powerless poor suffer more cuts in food stamps and investment in education for today's jobs.
We love our monuments. Hardly a week goes by that I do not receive requests for donations to war monuments for Marines, Wasps, Navy, Air Force, Tuskegee Red Tails, Wounded Warriors, Admiral Nimitz Foundation, World War II Museum, Citizen Soldiers, World War II vets, VFW, American Legion, Purple Heart, etc.
My own huge ship has been cut up into razor blades. I was proud of her seven battles and care of her wounded. I would be prouder still if she reminded us of the utter stupidity of war, of the men I buried off her fantail, and the sacrifice of her crew and Marines.
The best memorial to these brave men and women is to affirm the cause of peace and work toward justice and compassion. It would help if we all prayerfully remember at least one of the more than 1.2 million who have died since 1776 that we might live in freedom. It certainly beats watching the Indy 500.