Monday, May 31, 2010
Have a wonderful Memorial Day!
A very nice reflection on this day’s meaning from Mark Helprin in the Wall Street Journal.
“In American military cemeteries all over the world, seemingly endless rows of whitened grave markers stand largely unvisited and in silence. The gardeners tend the lawns, one section at a time. Even at the famous sites, tourism is inconstant. Sunsets and dawns, winter nights, softly falling snow, and gorgeous summer mornings mainly find the graves and those who lie within them protected in eternal tranquility. Now and then a visitor linked by love, blood, or both will come to make that connection with the dead that only love can sustain.
“Sometimes you see them, quiet in some neglected corner beneath the trees or on a field above the sea, but numbers and time make this the exception. If not completely forgotten, the vast ranks of Civil War dead are now primarily the object of genealogy and historians, as the fathers and mothers, women, children, and brothers who loved them are now long gone. As it is for everyone else it is for the dead of all the wars, and neither proclamations nor holidays nor children innocently placing flags can cure it.
“Nonetheless, a universal connection links every living American with those who have fallen or will fall in American wars and overrides the lapses in sustaining and honoring their memories. We are and shall be connected to them by debt and obligation. Though if by and large we ignore the debt we owe to those who fell at Saratoga, Antietam, the Marne, the Pointe du Hoc, and a thousand other places and more, our lives and everything we value are the ledger in which it is indelibly recorded. And even if we fail in the obligation, it is clear and it remains.”