Memorial Day Weekend
It’s Memorial Day Weekend in the USA. Memorial Day is an American holiday that evolved out of a day of remembrance for those who fell in the bloody American Civil War. It’s pretty much a uniquely American holiday, and is distinct from Veterans Day and its various foreign counterparts in the fall. It was traditionally dated on May 30th, a day chosen because no major battles had taken place on that day. It was expanded to cover the dead in all wars after World War One. Visiting cemeteries, parades, and picnics have always been a part of it. It is the unofficial start of summer, and hosts many sporting events as well. The Indianapolis 500, a car race, has been held on Memorial Day since 1911.
For me the heart of Memorial Day was epitomized in that amazing movie: Saving Private Ryan. Simultaneously remarkably stupid, accurate, moving, and insightful…it is the best war movie ever made in my opinion. There is a scene at a war grave, where a survivor makes his peace with a man who had died to save him during World War Two. Every American who has ever died in a war died getting each and every one of us where we are now. For good or for ill, these were real people with real lives sacrificed in our names. I do believe we are indeed at least obligated to honour that.
More than that, we are obligated to live our lives in a way that honour our dead. Not to give their deaths meaning, their deaths had what meaning they ever had or will have when they died, but because to do any less is to dishonour the gift of our lives. And in that stead, I have striven my entire life to understand this thing men call war. For to understand something is to rob it of its fear and power. And if we understand war, maybe someday we can outgrow it. If there is a purpose to my life, it’s to move us a little further on the path toward a world without war.
To honour my ancestors who have died in the mud of Flanders and the depths of the Atlantic, and many more I know not of…I work for a world where no one needs to die like this again. Doug’s Darkworld is the manifestation of this desire. It keeps me from running out in the streets, grabbing people, and screaming “wake up!” In that vein this weekend’s posts will be about remembering those who have died for us and understanding why they died.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
(As a work of the US federal government, the above image is public domain. It is a picture of Arlington Cemetery, where volunteers place American flags on each grave on Memorial Day.)