Editors note: This article was submitted for publication in our canceled June 1 issue, just after Memorial Day. We bring it to you now with our apologies.
This past Monday was Memorial Day. This holiday has its roots in American history following the Civil War; it was generally celebrated as “Decoration Day,” a day to place flowers and flags on the graves of fallen soldiers. Consequently, The Department of Veterans Affairs states that Memorial Day “commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service.” 36 USC § 116, the legislation establishing Memorial Day as a national holiday, states that on that day, the President is to issue a proclamation:
(1) calling on the people of the United States to observe Memorial Day by praying, according to their individual religious faith, for permanent peace;
(2) designating a period of time on Memorial Day during which the people may unite in prayer for a permanent peace;
(3) calling on the people of the United States to unite in prayer at that time; and
(4) calling on the media to join in observing Memorial Day and the period of prayer.
The assumed proper response to the commemoration of our honored war dead, according to this legislation, is to unite in prayer for peace. The true celebration of Memorial Day goes far beyond being “rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war” or just another “awareness” campaign. Memorial Day depends on memory. Continue reading Memory and Gratitude