With the lockdowns finally over, and in spite of record gas prices, many Americans are desperate to get out of the house and go to beaches or parks to celebrate Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial start of summer. But let’s not forget that Memorial Day means far more than that. It’s a day set aside to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to provide for us the unprecedented freedom that we so often take for granted as Americans.
In a story that appeared last year in the Epoch Times, veterans talked about the meaning of Memorial Day, and all of them made it clear that it isn’t about them, but about their comrades who never made it back home. One explained the meanings of our military holidays by saying, “Veterans Day is for those who survived and retired. Armed Forces Day is for those who are still serving. Memorial Day is reserved for those who never got to take off their uniform.”
Despite the distortions of America’s history that so many people want to force into our schools, the fact is that no people in the history of the world have experienced the liberties, opportunities or prosperity that we have enjoyed as citizens of the greatest country on God’s green earth — the United States of America. I don’t say that as a biased American, but as one who has traveled the world and who can scour the pages of human history and say definitively that no nation has ever given its inhabitants the degree of freedom, security, and pursuit of happiness as has this extraordinary experiment in government called the United States.
Our Constitution is a simple, yet profound, blueprint for a government in which the ultimate power rests with the people and not with a king, a tyrant dictator, a military general, or even an elected official. The genius of our nation is that the people have been vested with the highest power, and while we temporarily grant it to those we elect, we don’t give it away (even during a pandemic.) Sometimes, our leaders need to be reminded of that, which is what free speech and elections are for.
This great system of self-government with its separation and balance of powers and its accountability to the people has been and continues to be protected against both foreign and domestic threats by those who trade their clothes of choice for a uniform and who trade their personal liberties to accept orders from someone who outranks them.
In the process of providing that protection, in wars and other police actions over more than two centuries, more than one million of those in our military have given their lives for those of us who will enjoy this long weekend. No American should take this for granted nor ignore it. It shouldn’t be left to the Gold Star families alone to take a pause for a somber reminder of the price of our benefits of citizenship. We all owe it to them to show respect in some way for those whose deaths gave us our lives.
This year, May 8 was the 77th anniversary of World War II’s VE Day (Victory in Europe) and August 15 will be the 77th anniversary of VJ Day (Victory over Japan.) Even if there are no commemorative events near you, parents should use the Internet to teach kids about VE Day and VJ Day.
For kids who’ve heard derogatory comments about the military, these anniversaries are a golden opportunity to teach them that the rights, freedoms and comforts they enjoy were paid for with the blood of patriots: over a million soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. To cite just one war alone, many people today unconscionably water down the meaning of the term “Nazi” by hurling it thoughtlessly at political opponents.
This Memorial Day, especially in light of the shocking rise of anti-Semitic attacks by those who are ignorant of what World War II was about, please teach your children about the real evils of Nazism and the tens of millions who died because of it. Fly your flag, be proud to be an American, and give thanks and prayers for the 16 million Allied military members in World War II – over 405,000 of them Americans – who heroically gave their lives to stop it.