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.