It is natural for people to use the occasion of Memorial Day to get away and relax. And if I wasn’t running for the State Senate in 56 days, I’d probably be doing the same thing.
But I encourage you to take a moment this Memorial Day to remember “the reason for the season” – to recall those Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice. They did so to preserve the personal freedoms we enjoy here, and to ensure that societal decisions continue to be made by regular citizens and those who elect them, not dictators or foreign powers.
Though I know of no personal relative who paid that price, my maternal grandfather was career Army, as was my uncle, and my paternal grandfather served in WWI. My family fought so that I may do exactly as I am right now – participating in the democratic process. I am so grateful that they did. And I am deeply thankful for those who gave everything for this country, which remains, thanks to them, the greatest and most successful experiment in the history of civilization.
I’ll leave you with the Gettysburg Address, a re-reading of which is an ideal way to spend a few moments marking the true reason for Memorial Day.
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”