Selfish pride is at the root of contention, and contention is at the root of war. Two entities contend with each other over land, ideas, treasure, or power, all because of selfish pride. One entity sees the other as having something they want, or something they judge isn’t deserved, and in selfish pride they determine themselves to be the ones to make things right. This is how war is started.
War is ended when one entity is not caught up in pride; rather, their focus is on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. From humility and respect of liberty comes selfless pride. Patriotism is an expression of selfless pride. War ends when one entity acts in defense of family, country, and liberty.
The American Civil War is an example of the good and the bad in war. The conflict was fueled by pride, both good and bad. Patriotism was felt by both sides. Rights and liberty were being defended by both sides. Civil war is often very subjective. As with all war, there was tragic loss. The United States of America remained united, and all people were granted individual liberty, although it would still be many years for that to be manifest.
Memorial Day dates back to the Civil War when the women of the Confederacy decorated the graves of their fallen soldiers in remembrance of their sacrifice. When one day was first set aside for this it was known as Decoration Day. Later, the memorial service of honoring the resting place of soldiers fallen in the Civil War was embraced by the Northern states and was called Memorial Day, set apart as May 30th. For many years the states of the former Confederacy refused to participate in Memorial Day and continued to honor their dead on various days.
After World War I Memorial Day became a day to honor all Americans who had given their lives in war. While many Southern states retained State specific days of remembrance, Memorial Day on May 30th was also accepted and honored. Memorial Day is one aspect of what is great about the Spirit of America.
When war is entered into reluctantly, only as a last resort, and in full defense of family, country, and liberty, it is honorable. Though we may be able to debate why the U.S. has entered war in some instances, we cannot debate the service of the vast majority of individual Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors. Leaders may enter war for nefarious reasons, but the American service members do so out of selfless pride. The soldiers on the front line are what is great about the Spirit of America.
In an act of selfish pride, the Congress enacted the observance of Memorial Day on the fourth Monday in May in order to grant a federal three-day holiday weekend. You see how I feel about that decision. I think it is very sad that the elected officials of the U.S. make it difficult to trust their motivations in war and that they disregard the honor of the ultimate sacrifice made by so many Americans in the name of liberty, just so they can have a regular three-day weekend. Maybe three-day weekends are more cost effective, or maybe the sequester made them do it, preemptively, I don’t care what their reasons were or are. If our country can’t honor one day out of the year as a day of remembrance then we don’t deserve the liberty preserved by those the day is meant to honor and remember.
Memorial Day isn’t about specific wars, what was fought for, if the war was won, or even the individual character of each life lost. Memorial Day is a time to stop and give thanks for the selfless sacrifice of all those who “more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!” The phrase “we will never forget” gets thrown around often enough, but sometimes it isn’t enough to simply remember.
How do you honor Memorial Day? Please click this link, watch the slides, and participate in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3pm today, if you don’t already have a plan for observing the day. It really is the least we can do.