This Editorial appears in the May 30 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
Ours is a loud and angry society today. Look no further than the current presidential campaign, a spirit-killing fiasco and an advertisement for autocracy, if it’s decorous. Going back at least to Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, Americans have argued, but we also developed interests and ideals to bring us together.
There seems to be less uniting us, but thankfully, Memorial Day is an exception. Children love Memorial Day because it means the school year is almost over.
Adults, no matter how long in the tooth, aren’t too different. Only a miserable wretch would sneer at the gateway to summer, bringing with it warm weather, more daylight and perhaps even vacation time. Anyone for baseball, the beach or block- buster movies?
There’s also a very serious side to Memorial Day that adults should teach to children. The occasion started during the Civil War and often was called Decoration Day, a time to decorate the graves of soldiers fallen in battle.
As Abraham Lincoln said at Gettysburg, these are the people who “gave the last full measure of devotion.”
As war endured, so did the practice. The event took in those who wore the nation’s uniforms and sacrificed in two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and up to Iraq and Afghanistan.
While the pursuit of happiness is invariably a struggle, this is an appropriate time to reflect on citizenship in this remarkable nation. There are people in need among us, worthy of compassion, but we are, relatively, a rich and lucky country.
Power, official or private, can be used unjustly, but we have done a noteworthy job of dispersing that power so it is not concentrated absolutely. As a result, we can rail against abuse, sue it or vote against it.
Americans still can be left alone more often than most other people in the world, and that is truly a blessing, to retreat and not be bothered.
The mark of validation is that waves of people from elsewhere still want to come here, and people who are here volunteer to defend the nation, even though it could entail the ultimate sacrifice.
Trucking has done a fine job in reaching out to returning veterans, offering them jobs as drivers or in offices. This Memorial Day is a time to ponder what we like about our nation and our fellow citizens, and to redouble our efforts to welcoming home returning soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen and women.