Free and undivided
“Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations, that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided Republic.” — John A. Logan
Union General Logan was an important leader in the movement to recognize Memorial Day (then known as Decoration Day) as a national holiday. No doubt he carried a heavy burden of devastating memories, having seen first hand the tragedy of Americans taking up arms against each other.
Logan probably was not thinking of picnics and ball games and long weekends when he pushed for an official day of remembrance. But when I hear the words “Memorial Day,” those are the things I think of, along with hot dogs and warm weather and the resulting traffic nightmares as so many people hit the road to have fun.
Have we forgotten the cost that was (and is) paid to buy us our freedom? Sometimes it seems we have, and never more so than when our political discourse spirals downward into vulgar, often petty personal attacks. Are these sorts of controversies really worth squandering the unity that people died to save? Would our ancestors be ashamed of us?
Even today, it’s not hard to imagine that people who are facing genocide, epidemic disease, starvation and political oppression might see us as ignorant, or worse, decadent. Are we too distracted by diversions to care?
I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s holiday parade, but I hope that we will take a few moments today to reflect on the sacrifices of men and women whose lives were without the health, hope and happiness that we take for granted. Let’s honor them by remembering.