On Monday, we will once again celebrate Memorial Day to honor the fallen heroes who sacrificed much and laid down their lives in defense of the God-given freedoms and values we so embrace.
Many of us use our freedoms, defended by blood, to enjoy the long weekend and spend time with our families and friends. Some will gather in cemeteries and at memorial monuments to remember the cost of preserving our freedoms.
Abraham Lincoln, in his famous 1863 Gettysburg Address dedicating a portion of the battlefield as a final resting place for those who had fallen in that great Civil War battle, said: "But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
Regardless of one's views on that terrible war that once divided this nation, these words of Abraham Lincoln still speak to us today and apply to those from every state who have given their lives in defense of this nation's freedoms and its constitutional form of government.
It is fitting that we remember the great sacrifices made by those who have fought to defend our land and our nation, but the greatest honor we can pay to those fallen heroes is not the placement of flowers on their graves or even the brief memorial services held in their honor each year. The greatest honor we can pay to those who lived and died defending their homeland and our freedoms is to continue their struggle.
These fallen soldiers went into battle that we might continue to have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. They shed their blood that human life might be protected; that we might live and have the freedom to worship and practice our faith; that we might be able to give voice to our opinions and beliefs, choose our own occupations and businesses without government interference, keep and bear arms to preserve life, property and freedom (even against tyrannical government), carefully vote and elect our government officials, and be free of government intrusion into our daily lives.
If we don't defend and wisely use these freedoms -- if we don't defend life, don't worship and practice our faith, don't speak up in defense of what is right, don't take the time to vote and insist on honest elections, and don't let our elected leaders know the values we want to be upheld -- why did these men fight and die? Their service and their sacrifice will have been in vain! If we aren't willing to continue the struggle to preserve our constitutional freedoms and the republic which our forefathers handed down to us, how are we honoring those who fought and even gave all to preserve this nation for us?
Yes, on Memorial Day, it is good for us to take time to remember the great sacrifice so many have made to preserve for us our constitution, our nation and our freedom. But let us not let the memory of these fallen heroes die there and be forgotten for another year. Let us carry on the struggle and work for that which they sacrificed so much and even gave their lives. Let us uphold their values and beliefs and defend the principles and freedoms passed down to us by our founding fathers. Let us resolve anew to make their dying devotion our living devotion!
Don't let their sacrifices and their deaths be for naught!
Randy Moll is the managing editor of the Westside Eagle Observer. He may be contacted by email at [email protected] com. Opinions expressed are those of the author.