This editorial is being written in advance of Memorial Day and, sadly, is one the likes of which this paper has not carried in our history of publication.
That’s because we are in the middle of a war against an unseen enemy, Covid-19, and at time of writing this enemy has taken the lives of more than 95,000 Americans.
By Memorial Day itself, and for sure shortly afterwards, that number will pass 100,000.
Memorial Day in a “normal” year is a moment for us the pause and remember those who, in Abraham Lincoln’s immortal words, gave “the last full measure of devotion.”
America’s freedom was forged in blood sacrifice. More than 700,000 American soldiers have perished on battlefields at home and around the world — from Saratoga and Antietam to the Ardennes and Normandy, Inchon and Khe San, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places less well known. Many more have been wounded. Hardly a generation has escaped the pain of war.
But it is not enough to simply recall the sacrifice of America’s fallen. It’s not enough to salute our servicemen and women at parades or to attend memorial services at cemeteries. To properly, to appropriately, honor our nation’s war dead requires from all of us a renewed commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflict, to promoting democracy and freedom through the power inherent in those concepts, rather than through military might. It is, after all, what they fought and died for.
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This Memorial Day, ceremonies will be curtailed for reasons we are all too aware of. Beyond absence of forma ceremony, however, it will not be enough to simply take sorrowful note of the terrible number who have been taken from us by war, and by Covid-19.
We have to especially remember what they all lived for, who they have left behind, what they contributed to America during their shortened lives.
This Memorial Day should be for all who have fallen in war; those who have fallen before a seen enemy, those who have fallen before and unseen one, an enemy that we are fighting against still, each and every day.