Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.- John Logan,General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868
Why do we celebrate Memorial Day? It wasn’t an official, federal holiday until 1971. Originally, around 1868, it came about to honor the northern soldiers who gave their lives in defense of the republic. Southern states had their own memorials for confederate soldiers, and it took WWI to unite the sides and honor all that had died in the one and only civil war this country has suffered.
It’s pretty amazing to me that in our 240 year history, only once has our nation taken up arms against its self. Only once have our citizens put on uniforms, taken up arms, and pointed them internally. There are people walking this earth who have known nothing but civil war, for their entire lives! And none of us, born in this nation, have ever known civil war. We should be grateful. But are we?
Perusing any news source, it’s hard to tell if we are indeed grateful for those that have laid down their lives in defense of our constitution. Our constitution is our nation. It isn’t the land, the resources, the wealth, the politics, or even the people. It is that document that makes all of the stuff I just listed, a nation. It is the ideals enshrined in that paper, that have endured everything we can throw at it, that have impassioned our citizens to give their lives so that those ideals can live on.
Yet, the value of an undivided republic seems to be lost to so many. We, as a nation, appear to be actively looking for ways to divide ourselves. We don’t seem to find value in our differences. We don’t seem to find the value in our ability to work together in spite of those differences. We have forgotten what the revolutionists fought for, and what our founding fathers created. A nation of differences brought together for a great good for all people.
The best and most proper way for all of us to observe Memorial Day, and honor and remember those that gave all, is to set aside our differences for the greater cause that is our constitution. Our political leaders and wannabes need to stop dividing our government; stop highlighting each others different paths to a stronger nation, and actively pursue common ground to fix what needs fixing. Our citizens need to stop being political pawns, and stop buying into the hateful and divisive rhetoric of those pursuing more and more power.
Forget about democrat or republican, gay or straight, black or white, rich or poor, christian or muslim, male or female; learn from our soldiers. Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, and Air Force shed their differences when they put on that uniform. They all enter boot camp to unlearn their differences to become a singular force that will defend our constitution to their last breath. The individuality of the Commander-in-Chief does not matter; they are oath bound to serve under him/her. The political dominance of one party over the other in the Congress means nothing, it’s the constitution our soldiers serve and protect.
As for we the people, those of us who have never put on a uniform, or have put that uniform aside, our soldiers serve and defend us all. They don’t get to pick and choose who they will protect. They don’t get to decide if they will lay down their lives for a christian but not an atheist; their last breath isn’t just for heterosexuals. They don’t put on that uniform to serve only caucasians; republicans aren’t the only ones for whom they take up arms. They take that oath to sacrifice themselves for every citizen; the living, breathing embodiment of our constitution.
So this Memorial Day, if you want to truly honor and remember those that have given their lives so that our constitution may continue to live, stop hating each other and stop buying in to the hate of others. Stop treating each other like enemies.
Stop focusing on our differences and actively search for common ground; it is always there, you just have to be willing to see it.