Memorial Day: A Debt to Repay

When you go home, tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow, we gave our today

Inscription on the Memorial to the dead of the British Second Division at Kohima

(I was going to write something new for Memorial Day, but considering the events of the past few months, especially the trampling of civil liberties during the lockdown, I thought this post from last year was perfect.)

I have always been careful, as best as I am able, to repay any debts I have incurred in this life.  Of course some debts are unrepayable.  How, for example, do we repay the debt to our parents for their care of us as children, especially, as in my case, when they died relatively young, before they endured the ravages of age and required our assistance?   Our salvation, bought by Christ on the Cross, is completely beyond our poor power to repay.  On Memorial Day we honor those who we can never repay, those who have died in our wars.  They had the sweetness of life taken from them, usually after a short twenty years or so on this Earth.  Most of them are long forgotten, as the decades remove from the scene those who knew and loved them.  We owe our peace and freedom to them, and we are in their debt, a debt we can never hope to pay.


Thus we do the best we can.  We erect monuments to them which they will never see in this Vale of Tears, give speeches that they can never hear, hold parades that they will never march in.  We do our best to care for their widows and orphans, and that is something, but it is not enough.  When a man dies for you, your gratitude seeks for an outlet.  Gratitude is one of the noblest impulses of Man, just as ingratitude is one of the most ignoble features of our fallen nature.

The only real way to even begin to pay this blood debt is to make it mean something.  As Lincoln noted in the Gettysburg Address:  that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.

We can do this by preserving our freedom and fighting, when needs be, against those who seek to take that freedom from us.  To ensure that the nation remains strong to deter threats from abroad.  To never take for granted that this nation that has been purchased for us with the blood of others, over a million others.  It is a fought for nation, and it will always be a fought for nation as long as it is free.

For most Americans Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer and the long weekend is filled with fun activities, and there is nothing wrong with that.  If our war dead could come back for a Memorial Day weekend, I am sure that most of them would be joining in the fun.  However, the day means so much more than that.  The debt it symbolizes must be never forgotten, and we should do our best with our lives to repay a debt impossible to repay.



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  1. You brought tears to my eyes.

    Thank you ever so much.

    You made a beautiful day, even more precious.

    God Bless You, Don!

  2. Battle of Kohima: The Greatest World War Two Battle Everyone Forgot
    by Kaushik
    “Perched on top of a mountain ridge, some 5,000 feet up in the remote hilly terrain of northeast India, lies the town of Kohima, in what is now the state of Nagaland. During the Second World War, one of the most decisive battles in the Burmese front took place here—the one that thwarted the Japanese invasion of India and helped turn the tide of the war in the Far East. Like most battles that took place in the South-East Asian theater, the Battle of Kohima remains relatively unknown because the world was too preoccupied with Nazi Germany in Europe. The Allied Invasion of Europe also steered the spotlight away from the Battle of Kohima which was still being fought when D-Day started.”
    Thank you. I learn something every time I open a post on TAC, especially on Memorial Day, as I’m sure many of your readers do also. My father and his three brothers and a sister-in-law served in the WWII European Theater. As a child I heard the stories of D Day and saw the WWI, WWII military cemeteries across Europe. In the 70s, 80s when living, working, travelling in the Orient I became interested in the The Raj and the Pacific Theater. It seems to me that we Americans sometimes forget that we weren’t alone in fighting Imperial Japan in the Far East. That ANZAC, Commonwealth, and the Dutch forces fought too. Their dependents/citizens also suffered greatly and died when the Japanese invaded and occupied SE Asia.

  3. Offered for discussion, because I don’t know if Sydney Potier is right or not, but I’m sympathetic. I’m also suspicious, because it’s the 60s, and you can’t trust either Boomers or their “Greatest Generation” enablers.
    But what do I know? I’m just a dumb Xer.

    I owe you nothing

  4. The worst of the Sixties. I couldn’t disagree more with the attitude of the character portrayed by Poitier to his father. A very silly, pretentious movie that has aged poorly. A shame that SpencerTracy wasted the last months of his life on it.

  5. My beautiful bride loves that movie, along with Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
    I’m sympathetic to Portier’s argument because we don’t ask to be brought into this world, nor do we ask our children if they want to be brought into this world. We decide that for them (or rather, God decides that for us, if we have the courage to accept his will).

    You pay back your parents by doing the best you can for your children, their grandchildren, and you just pray that it’s enough.

  6. “because we don’t ask to be brought into this world,”

    Yep, it is a freely given gift that requires gratitude, something sorely lacking in the scene played out between the Poitier character and his father. As I noted, the worst of the Sixties.

  7. Except gratitude isn’t a debt or obligation.

    I don’t know. I don’t think Portier is quite right, but he isn’t altogether wrong either.

  8. I completely agree that there’s a definite “Me” generation vibe to the scene, and that’s a problem.

  9. “Except gratitude isn’t a debt or obligation.”

    It is for any decent son or daughter. In the law mines I have encountered people with bad relationships with their parents. I have encountered none, although I assume such poor creatures exist, who wish their parents had never brought them into being. It is no surprise to me that Honor thy Mother and Father is a Commandment from God and not a suggestion.

  10. I completely agree that there’s a definite “Me” generation vibe to the scene, and that’s a problem.

    Been there done that. My father once gave me unsolicited advice when I was on my way to my first year in college and I smarted off to him. He didn’t say anything but I hurt his feelings, something I have regretted from that moment to this.

  11. Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
    You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

  12. [3] Behold the inheritance of the Lord are children: the reward, the fruit of the womb. [4] As arrows in the hand of the mighty, so the children of them that have been shaken. [5] Blessed is the man that hath filled the desire with them; he shall not be confounded when he shall speak to his enemies in the gate.
    Psalm 126

  13. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

  14. [2] Children, hear the judgment of your father, and so do that you may be saved. [3] For God hath made the father honourable to the children: and seeking the judgment of the mothers, hath confirmed it upon the children. [4] He that loveth God, shall obtain pardon for his sins by prayer, and shall refrain himself from them, and shall be heard in the prayer of days. [5] And he that honoureth his mother is as one that layeth up a treasure.

    [6] He that honoureth his father shall have joy in his own children, and in the day of his prayer he shall be heard. [7] He that honoureth his father shall enjoy a long life: and he that obeyeth the father, shall be a comfort to his mother. [8] He that feareth the Lord, honoureth his parents, and will serve them as his masters that brought him into the world. [9] Honour thy father, in work and word, and all patience, [10] That a blessing may come upon thee from him, and his blessing may remain in the latter end.

    [11] The father’s blessing establisheth the houses of the children: but the mother’s curse rooteth up the foundation. [12] Glory not in the dishonour of thy father: for his shame is no glory to thee. [13] For the glory of a man is from the honour of his father, and a father without honour is the disgrace of the son. [14] Son, support the old age of thy father, and grieve him not in his life; [15] And if his understanding fail, have patience with him, and despise him not when thou art in thy strength: for the relieving of the father shall not be forgotten.

    [16] For good shall be repaid to thee for the sin of thy mother. [17] And in justice thou shalt be built up, and in the day of affliction thou shalt be remembered: and thy sins shall melt away as the ice in the fair warm weather. [18] Of what an evil fame is he that forsaketh his father: and he is cursed of God that angereth his mother.
    Sirach 3: 2-17

  15. “Especially,” said Mr. Pumblechook, “be grateful, boy, to them which brought you up by hand.” Mrs. Hubble shook her head, and contemplating me with a mournful presentiment that I should come to no good, asked, “Why is it that the young are never grateful?” Chas. Dickens

    I’ve read that the Biblical quote, “Spare the rod spoil the child,” really means, “Spare the rod hate the child.” I’m not advocating corporal punishment.

    We didn’t expect recompense for anything we did for/with our children. That’s love, which is a verb and a cardinal virtue. Children should have learned that by their parents’ examples.

    Likely, they learn this bad stuff in school (govern-sponsored child abuse). The left knows first they must destroy the family to destroy America. Then, they go after the Church.

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