Friday, May 28, 2010
To: Friends & Supporters
From: Gary L. Bauer
This weekend marks Memorial Day, a national observance first known as Decoration Day. It was meant to be a time to remember and honor our Civil War dead simply by decorating their graves. Over time, the holiday’s significance was extended to honor all those who paid the ultimate price for our nation. Now, as America is at war, Memorial Day also provides an opportunity for us to reflect on, and give thanks for, the sacrifices of our soldiers still in harm’s way.
We face many dangers today – jihadist attacks, a nuclear Iran, out-of-control deficits. But the greatest danger of all is one that doesn’t make many headlines – our collective national amnesia. Our history textbooks are sanitized to be politically correct and give our children virtually no sense of the greatness of the nation they live in.
In my talks at hundreds of high schools during the 2000 campaign, I was struck by how often decent American kids had nothing good to say about their country. Most had virtually no knowledge of the sacrifices made to establish and preserve their liberty. They are the recipients of the greatest freedom and opportunity that any society has ever produced; yet they are unaware of the price in flesh and blood that was paid for it.
In America today, Memorial Day weekend has become more of an occasion for rest and relaxation than for reflection about our heroes and the values they died to preserve. This weekend, I hope and pray that we can learn to do both – relax and remember. Let’s go the ballgame, have that picnic, hug our kids and have some fun at the beach.
But let’s also remind ourselves, and our children, about what happened at Concord Bridge, the fields of Antietam and the beaches of Normandy. Let’s explain to them why there was a Berlin Wall, what happened at Okinawa and the price that was paid to stop fascism and Soviet communism. The same resolve that allowed us to persevere in those conflicts will be necessary if we are to overcome our current challenges.
In short, with America facing so many dangers internally and externally, let’s take a moment this weekend to teach our children and grandchildren to love the things we love, and honor the things we honor. Finally, let’s remind ourselves as well as our children that all liberty is a gift from God and that each generation has paid in flesh and blood to preserve it.
For those of you who want a place to start, try reading to your kids and grandkids these words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:
“We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 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.”
*Last year’s Memorial Day Message received such a tremendous response, we wanted to share it (with minor updates) with you again, but most especially with the folks who may be new to our work. Our next report will be Tuesday, June 1st. Thank you for all you do to make our work possible. I, and everyone at American Values, depend on and appreciate you more than you will ever know!