As we kick off the summer season each year with the Memorial Day weekend, we tend to forget what the holiday is all about. You may have noticed that we don’t celebrate it with lavish spreads of summertime foods at Epicurus.com, unlike all our competitors.
The reason? We prefer to honor those who’ve made the supreme sacrifice for our Nation, rather than looking singularly to our own pleasures and desires, or commercial gain. That was, after all, the purpose of the holiday—to honor our fallen heroes, not to throw a barbecue bash or a beach-side clambake, nor to increase sales.
Admittedly, those of us who actually remember the true purpose of “Decoration Day,” as it was once called, are a bit older, and may have lost someone who served and died. In my own personal case, it was my uncle Joe, who perished in the Pacific, and for whom there is a headstone in a US military cemetery in the Philippines; died in battle in the Pacific. I write this, thinking too, of my father, another of “the greatest generation,” who passed in 2010, aged 88.
We soon forget to honor those who’ve passed before us; who’ve help to make this nation great. It is, I suppose, one of the results of healing old wounds that we do so, but it is something we must resist. Perhaps Abraham Lincoln was thinking how his generation had forgotten the struggle of those who perished in the Revolutionary War for Independence when he wrote the Gettysburg Address in 1863, opening with “Four score and seven years ago…“, speaking of just that creation of liberty, and the struggle it took.
Lincoln wisely said “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.”
Lincoln was sending us a message for posterity, that the work of our lost brothers and sisters goes on in the preservation of our society, culture and communal goals, telling us never to give up the fight for freedom and liberty. He reminded us that the enemies of those fundamentals of our government are constantly under attack, from without and within, and that our solemn duty, our obligation is to preserve, protect and defend this Nation and its laws. He subtly tells us that to we cannot have a nation of laws if we disrespect those laws, or count on any birthright if we forfeit the nation that affords such rights, privileges and benefits. He subliminally tells us that we who enjoy freedom must fight to keep it, lest the forces of evil will gladly take away the basic tenets of freedom.
Perhaps it’s a bit selfish of us not to join the rest of the community in celebrating Memorial Day with parties, fireworks and big feasts (even though we are a food and beverage site), but we think the true meaning of this holiday is to remember our fallen fathers, brothers, uncles, aunts, sisters, cousins, mothers and friends who’ve given their lives to ensure we can have a good life in these United States.
We sometimes forget too, that we are now engaged in several critical struggles. One to find and eliminate tyranny in Afghanistan and equally important, to resolve our constitutional crisis at home. Our men and women in uniform are still putting their lives on the line for us and we hope our readers will join us in celebrating them, and those among them who’ve given their lives in dedication.
Here at Epicurus.com, we wish everyone a wonderful holiday, but urge all to take a moment and remember those for whom Memorial Day is celebrated. May their sacrifice, and those of all who’ve given all, never be forgotten, or disrespected.