Never let war dead slip away from our nation’s conscience

We might say,  “Have a nice holiday” or” Happy Memorial day” to one another today.
But there’s little you would call nice or anything to be happy about what this day celebrates.
Though instead of celebrating America’s war dead we honor them, or many do, on this holiday.
This Memorial Day weekend some 43 million Americans were expected to be traveling, making it one of the busiest holiday weekends ever.
In that rush though to get from one place to another something has slipped in the American conscience.
The significance of this holiday, of course, is not lost on anyone who has buried a son, a wife or a father from a war or conflict. Every day of the year is Memorial Day.
But for all too many of us, who are once every year called upon to mark the sacrifice of  those who died in service to our nation, we should pause, if just for a moment today.
It will probably never be just a day for memories, hugs and tears and the kind of patriotism that supersedes politics. But amid the  cookouts, the pools, the malls, the games and the road, there is a sacred purpose behind this day.
For history buffs and many veterans’ organizations, Memorial Day is celebrated May 30 — the same day as the first Decoration Day on May 30, 1868.
That date coincided with the peak season for spring flowers, which were used to decorate the countless graves of Civil War dead, our country’s deadliest war.
It’s estimated that 750,000 Americans died in that war as the burden was shared and its cost was well known by  practically every family in the nation.
Decoration Day would go on to became Memorial Day some 20 years later. From thereon, our war dead would die in foreign lands or from wounds suffered there.
Today, as our longest-running war goes on in Afghanistan, we owe it to all those we honor today to rethink war.
No, not just to naively call for  no more wars. But instead to simply no longer believe there’s a military solution to every crisis, be it a North Korea, or an Iran.
Since the unconditional surrenders of the Axis Powers in World War II, military solutions have eluded us, ending in stalemate or worse outcomes. In that interim, some 100,000 of our finest died in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq and in other obscure dots on the map.
It’s true, we are at our best when we see ourselves in one another and recognize where we come from.
But at the very same time, we are most at risk when we forget or ignore where we’ve been and who was there to answer the call. It’s way past time their country was there for those who sacrificed their lives for our way of life.
And the best way to do that now and in the future: Never rush to judgment about war, again. Never.

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