Saturday, May 26, 2018

Reflections on Memorial Day

For perhaps the majority of people, Memorial Day is simply the "official " kickoff of Summer; a four day weekend. Public pools are opened in most communities while families and friends enjoy cookouts or start their vacations. All of that is well and good, but that was never the intent of Memorial Day. Memorial Day was set aside originally as "Remembrance Day".

Today, "Remembrance Day" as Memorial Day was originally called, is more about remembering to bring the charcoal, hotdogs and hamburgers, and sun screen than as a day of national and familial or even personal reflection on the lives lost in defense of this nation's freedoms. As a nation, many of us would go visit cemeteries to plant flags, attend some form of religious or even secular service, or even watch a parade honoring our veterans and first responders. Not so much anymore.

Nowadays, it's becoming harder and harder to find volunteers to place flags on the graves of the fallen; the only true heroes in my opinion. In the case of the Civil War, which was the bloodiest war ever fought by this nation (more lives were lost during the War Between the States than all other US wars combined), it has become "politically incorrect" to honor the Confederate dead. Many towns and cities have removed Confederate statues, while some are simply vandalized with little effort made to catch and punish the perpetrators.

At cemeteries, it has now become unacceptable to fly the Stars and Bars over the graves of Confederate dead, or even to place small Confederate flags on their graves. It's a shame really, and bit ironic that the graves of British dead as a result of the American Revolution or the War of 1812 are permitted a Union Jack to be placed on their graves. The Japanese aren't denied the red and white Imperial "Rising Sun" at US controlled sites in the Pacific (which are maintained by Japanese military associations).

It's odd to when you think about how much misinformation is put out about this greatest tragedy in American history; most of it in a coordinated manner with the sole intent on rewriting history; to create to new political narrative which is so foreign from the original issues that those who fought in this war over 150 years ago would never recognize. But historical politics aside, those who fought and died for the "Lost Cause" were, above all else, Americans.

They believed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They believed that God was on their side, as was the Spirit of the Founding Fathers. They believed in individual freedom and personal responsibility. They believed in the rights of the States and in a limited federal government. As an aside, the majority of the descendants of the Founding Fathers living at that time supported the cause of independence for the Southern States. Yes, slavery was an issue, but not the sole issue and certainly not an issue limited to the South. It impacted the entire nation, but it was not the central issue as we've been misled to believe.

But slavery and its impact is not the topic of this article. Respect and remembrance of the fallen is. Never should we disrespect those who fought and died for this country, regardless of what color uniform they wore or our modern political sensibilities dictate. We have only a distorted understanding at best of what happened over a century ago. Don't forget that it's the victors who write the histories, which often changes as the political winds blows.

We should also never allow our fallen be dishonored regardless of our political beliefs. We are Americans first; before we are Independents, Liberals, Conservatives, whatever political party we belong to, or even our personal opinion about a given war, be it on US soil, the Pacific, Middle East, Europe, or the jungles of Southeast Asia and regardless of our skin color or ethnic background. Death doesn't make a distinction, why should we? We should honor them in the way they would want to be honored.

On a related note, I feel that I need to comment briefly about the recent NFL decision regarding kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. For those of you who haven't heard, NFL owners have finally come together (due in large part to falling revenues as fans went elsewhere to spend their money) to ban kneeling by players during the anthem. The league has, in all fairness, left it up to the teams whether to remain in the locker room during the playing of the anthem, or come onto the field as they've always done (individual players may also elect to stay in the locker room).

However, if teams elected to come onto the field and one or more players kneel, that team will be accessed a 15 yard penalty on the opening kickoff. The league also approved an $89 million dollar "social injustice" platform to help address issues which allegedly underlined some of the protests. Sounds pretty fair to me. Nevertheless, as expected, many of the "talking heads" on the various talk shows oppose the policy, claiming that the team owners "caved" or were "cowards", which is complete hogwash.

First and foremost, football is a business. The overwhelming majority of Americans found the actions of these players disrespectful; disrespectful to active duty military, veterans, first responders, and finally, to America itself. As a result, the NFL lost millions of dollars in sports related revenue. Television ratings took a nose dive and stadiums were left with hundreds of empty seats. Advertisers started looking elsewhere to place their ads. Sports related merchandise sales also took a huge hit. Americans spoke with their most powerful weapon---not the vote (which has become increasingly meaningless anyway)---but their dollars. That's something business types understand well.

Fans told the NFL and everyone else associated with the games, "Don't disrespect our flag. We're here to watch a game---a game---not be subjected to someone's political rant", and they are right. Once players put that uniform on, they represent the team, the owners, and the NFL. Their decision to make a political statement on our time---the fans---has no place on that field. If they want to protest out on the street, in front of a courthouse, or wherever---on their own time, then so be it. Great. Have at it. But as players, they do not have the right to our time to air their political grievances. It was this kind of "look at me" behavior which killed professional baseball as America's unofficial national sport a few decades ago, and America has never forgotten. It would appear that neither have NFL team owners.

Americans are, by and large, a pretty relaxed and easy going bunch, but there are a few things we won't stand for. Disrespecting our flag, our nation, our military and veterans--both living and fallen---are just a few of them. So, as you and yours celebrate Memorial Day, take a moment or two to remember those who made this all possible, regardless of the war or color of their uniform. They were ordinary Americans, once full of life and dreams with families and loved ones...just like you and me .

New policy requires on-field players to stand for anthem

Remembrances on Memorial Day

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