Robert Green Ingersoll served in the Union army during the Civil War. As a veteran, he knew and appreciated the sacrifice his brothers in arms made for their country.
Ingersoll, who died in 1899, had this to say about fallen veterans:
“These heroes are dead. They died for liberty — they died for us. They are at rest. They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, the embracing vines. They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or storm, each in the windowless palace of rest. Earth may run red with other wars — they are at peace. In the midst of battles, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.”
On Monday, we have an opportunity as a nation to formally remember our fallen heroes. Unfortunately, Memorial Day has become the unofficial mile post marking the start of summer across much of America. Others see it as a big day for shopping or a day off from work.
The sentiments of American writer Thomas Dunn English provide a better summation of the meaning of the day: “But the freedom that they fought for, and the country grand they wrought for, is their monument today.”
In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking all Americans to pause for at least a moment at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day to honor those who have fallen. According to the White House Commission on Remembrance, the idea for the moment was hatched when children touring Washington, D.C., were asked what Memorial Day means. They responded, “That’s the day the pool opens.”
At 3 p.m. Monday, we hope you take time from enjoying your freedom to honor those who have died to protect it.