This Memorial Day will be the cause for a three day holiday for many. Most will see the days pass, just as Veteran’s Day with scarce a thought for what this day is all about. It is and has been called Decoration Day. Since World War I it has also been called Poppy Day, because of the small red poppies sold to raise money for disabled veterans. The custom of a day of remembrance for the fallen soldiers of America’s Wars dates back to at least the end of the American Civil War.
Out of the awful war that divided a nation and destroyed State sovereignty there was a need for healing that has never been completely accomplished. In the war that changed America from being a Republic into a form of a democracy the lesson went out to the rest of the world. A man named Clauswitz studied us as we fought the first total war of modern times and he took back what he learned with him to Europe. Out of this came the first total war in Europe which helped to set the stage for World War I. Most of our ancestors who participated in that great conflict never realized the tremendous forces at work. On both sides men gave themselves for the cause of liberty. We should remember their sacrifice and the real reason it took place, which was not slavery.
I could write how entangling alliances, the thing George Washington warned against, caused the First World War, or I could write about the Second War, which was a direct result of the First. I could talk about men like Henry Ford who financed a madman named Adolph Hitler and ITT who transmitted U.S. secrets to the Nazis. But I choose to remember the men who saved Europe in WWI and those who saved the world in WWII. We could talk about how Korea and Vietnam held back communism along with a thousand sacrifices made by men acting for America in places and actions that will remain unsung and hidden in secret files perhaps forever. God knows.
We now face a foe fought by marines in Lybia in 1805. The enemy is the god of Islam and the people he inspires to do evil. This war costs the lives of people who believe in freedom just as has the wars that have gone before. I believe no veteran should ever end his days wondering if his sacrifice was worthwhile.
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Buchanan, Georgia 30113