The commemoration of Memorial Day dates back to the Civil War when Southern women set aside a day to decorate the graves of fallen Confederate Soldiers. Christened “Decoration Day,” the solemn service was adopted by the Federal government after the Civil War and subsequently renamed “Memorial Day.”
With its origins in the American Civil War, a bitter, bloody conflict fought over the legitimacy of slavery and impingement of the rights of the individual states by a growing federalism, Memorial Day has become a remembrance of those fallen in all of America’s declared and undeclared wars. It was and is a day to honor those who paid the ultimate price in safeguarding and building the greatest nation in the history of the world.
Although Memorial Day remains a holiday on our calendar and a day anticipated and celebrated by most Americans, its true meaning and significance is largely overlooked. While official ceremonies are conducted in our nation’s capital and in communities nationwide, the vast majority of our citizens view the holiday as nothing more than a long weekend, a day off from work, the kickoff to the Summer Season, or all of the above.
And, big business has seized upon the day to peddle their wares with yet another in their interminable “sales” as enticements to get consumers to part with their money. Of course, there is nothing inherently inappropriate in people enjoying a holiday or using their weekend or day off for their own purposes. Yet, the obliviousness of the average person to the historical significance of a day to honor our fallen heroes is yet another indication of a pervasive societal decay.
When we fail to give more than passing consideration to the meaning and purpose of Memorial Day and other days set aside to honor God and Country, we demonstrate just how far our nation has devolved from that “shining city on a hill” – the beacon that has given hope to the world’s oppressed and downtrodden for more than 200 years. In a society filled with egocentric individuals, money has become “God.”
We no longer “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” It is no surprise then that the concept of shared sacrifice is anathema to most members of such a society and that the sacrifice of those who have given their lives for their country and fellow men can be so easily ignored.