Most people recognize that today’s America is extremely polarized. Hostile camps are set up on pretty much every issue, to the point where our government can’t even work together to solve very solvable problems, and our population is all too comfortable denigrating one another’s views. But on this—I hope, I pray—we can agree: we thank and honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. And we are grateful to all those who serve.
Memorial Day was created after the Civil War to honor both Union and Confederate soldiers who died in that war. (And, of course, it has evolved to honor all Americans who have died in military service.) But perhaps its origin should be a lesson to us today—that extremely opposite sides can come together to honor the sacrifices made for this blessed country of ours.
I don’t mean to be simplistic about this at all. War is certainly not just good vs evil. Sometimes it is not even right. But no matter what the gray areas are of any given conflict, we must always remember that we have people who say, “I will risk my life for this”—and the “this” is ultimately the freedom we Americans enjoy—warts and all.
My dad served in World War II. My father-in-law was present at the Cuban Missile Crisis. I never got to know a cousin of mine because he died in Vietnam when I was just a baby. I have friends and neighbors who serve and have served bravely. Hundreds of thousands of people who don’t even know me are taking care of business on my behalf. Thank you all.
I pray that as a country we strive to be better people every day, and that we grow in tolerance, respect, and love for one another. To me, anything less dishonors those who have given all.