Monday, May 31

Remembering Those Who Lived: Memorial Day


"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived." — General George S. Patton

The death of Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht from Texas marked a grim reminder for most Americans that freedom comes at a price that is often paid by others. He was the 1,000th soldier killed in Afghanistan. In Iraq, the number of deaths reached 1,000 in October 2004. The Washington Post chronicles the fallen whereas the words of President Abraham Lincoln, written before the first Memorial Day (originally Decoration Day), remain among the most quoted for all those who came before them. I leave them for you today.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. 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 can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not 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.
— President Abraham Lincoln

What else can be said, except to ask ourselves daily whether we still hold such resolve in high regard, that those men and women who have laid down their lives have done so in the name of freedom. We may hope.

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