Day of the dead
Monday is our day of the dead in the United States of America. It’s not wrong to have fun with family and friends on this long weekend, but as with the Latin American Dia de Muertos, make sure to keep in mind those who have died.
On this particular holiday, specifically remember the military dead.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was started specifically to commemorate soldiers who died in the Civil War. Americans slaughtered hundreds of thousands of each other between 1861 and 1865. This is the appointed time of year to turn our minds to that horror and resolve to never let it happen again.
But Memorial Day isn’t just about the Civil War. It was extended long ago to include all U.S. soldiers killed in all wars.
People tend to loosen the definition even more, saying it is a day to remember all those who have died — “especially” rather than “only” in war. That’s not necessarily wrong, in our view.
For instance, we pray for those veterans who may not have died in the war zone but whose deaths were tied to wartime trauma. Many died as a result of drug or alcohol abuse, self-medicating their post-traumatic stress disorders. Many committed suicide — an average of 20 a day as of 2014, the latest year for which the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs studies are available.
So many have fallen. Let’s remember both the joy of their lives and the pain of their deaths. Let’s tell their stories. Let’s also work and pray for our nation to be wise, good and brave going forward, to shun war in the future — or, if it is absolutely unavoidable, to fight honestly and justly with all the best character inside us.
We are still a nation at war, even though we haven’t acted like one in decades. We need occasions such as Memorial Day to think about that reality.
Of course people have strong feelings and opinions about something as critical as war, but Memorial Day is a time to set those aside, come together and simply remember.
P.S.: The Enterprise will not publish a paper on Memorial Day this year. The next issue will come out Tuesday.