Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Finding and Binding the Nation's Wounds

If last week's heatwave gave us a small taste of summer to come, a look at the calendar suggests we're a lot closer than we may have thought with this coming Memorial Day holiday weekend serving as the starting pistol before the announcer intones, 'gentlemen, start your bbq's!"  

But, just before you start packing for the picnics, or the shore or, closer to home, taking in the Rotary Carnival that starts tomorrow night at Howard T. Brown Park and goes until Monday, if I may have just a moment to offer some words, and what passes for thoughts, that you may recall from years previous when the topic is Memorial Day.

I'm old enough to remember when we observed/celebrated holidays where they fell on the calendar. That whole 'let's roll things to the nearest Monday and give everyone a three-day weekend' craze hadn't started. Sometimes I'm not sure we might not be better off with a return to earlier times, but that's a thought for another day. 

Meanwhile, I'm probably the first to wish you the best for your Memorial Day holiday, which will be observed Monday. 

And to help in that observation there's a remembrance ceremony 
at The Memorial Park in Taftville, around the corner from the Knights of Columbus starting at ten dedicated to a Taftville native son Army Technician Fourth Grade Joseph Andre Carignan who served during World War II and who died on October 18, 1945. The Taftville VFW Post 2212 and the American Legion Post 104 do a wonderful job of organizing this event, as they do with so many others throughout the year. I always find time to attend and hope you will too.

If tradition is any indicator, there will be some remarks by local civic leaders and those who served in uniform around the world in both war and peace and who lived to come home and tell about it, as well as words of comfort from a clergy person.

And if you're like me, you'll look around at the metal folding chairs, all neatly aligned facing the podium and try to figure out how many of those who were there last year made it this year. That's a tricky subject. The memory of sacrifice only survives until the last person who remembers has passed.

You probably have a ceremony very much like it where you live today and for all those who died in this country's wars so you and I could wear "Kiss the Cook" aprons and "I'm with Stupid" tee-shirts, cook raw meat over hot rocks and drink a little too much beer, it's never too late in the day to say 'thank you' so I hope you try to attend.

At the ceremony in Taftville Monday, there'll be a contingent of Young Marines joined by some Sailors, still in training, from the Submarine Base. They will serve as ushers and perhaps as the color guard and after about three-quarters of an hour, we'll have said all that we have to say and we'll all go our separate ways. It's not very much time to honor those men and women who spoke the seventy words which make up the Oath of Enlistment and meant them in their fullest measure.

The United States has been doing memorial remembrances for those who served our nation for a long time--though not by other nation's standards, mind you. 

In comparison to the Great Nations of Europe, we are a snot-nosed kid (admittedly who saved the aforementioned great nations twice in the previous century) and who did a remarkable job of rebuilding enemies beyond both oceans, Germany and Japan, while serving as a bulwark against the Soviet Union for decades.

But in the Brave New World, it's long since become 'what have you done for us lately?' And new enemies, far more formidable than any we have encountered before, require vigilance and sacrifice.

These are times of turmoil in the Land of the Free. We have all manner of talking heads, 24/7 TV news stations and websites which pander to every political flavor in the rainbow and tolerance and accommodation are in awfully short supply. 

We've become heavily entrenched in and entranced with our own beliefs and are less interested than at any time since the Nativist movement in what anyone disagreeing with us has to say about anything.

Perhaps as a reminder to take into this holiday weekend and beyond, I can offer the seventy (and four) words which closed Abraham Lincoln's second Inaugural Address. 

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." 
-bill kenny

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