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Memorial Day: A Tradition Worthy of Respect

Pastor Kelly Boggs | May 31 2004

The sins of America are many. Among the most blatant are the insistence on the right to kill pre-born humans, the protection of pornography and the legitimizing of perversion as normal and healthy. While these and other moral failings are signs that the United States is far from healthy, a more subtle sign could be just as telling.

In his book “When Nations Die,” historian Jim Nelson Black cites 10 warning signs of a culture in crisis. Among the trends that indicate a society has stopped making history and is in the process of becoming history is “the loss of respect for tradition.”

Tradition links generations together by calling attention to significant events and people. It is a form of remembering. Tradition commemorates not only the past, but also how the past impacts the present.

Tradition is one generation passing the baton of history to the next. When it is dropped, a selfish and spoiled generation develops, characterized by obsession with the present with little or no regard for that which is yet to come. The future is viewed through eyes of cynicism rather than the gaze of hope.

A knowledge of and appreciation for those who have preceded us is necessary in order to understand our place in history. If we are to contribute positively to future generations we must understand how we have benefited from past generations.

As a nation we have wisely set aside certain days for remembrance. These days are traditions that are designed to help us recall individuals and events that have helped shape our nation. However, it seems we are in the process of losing respect for some of these time-honored commemorations.

America has set aside the last Monday in May to be observed as Memorial Day. However, a recent Gallup poll indicated that only 28 percent of Americans know the true significance of the holiday.

The seed for Memorial Day was planted in 1866 as the United States was recovering from the Civil War. Henry Welles, a drugstore owner in Waterloo, N.Y., suggested that all the shops in town close for one day in honor of the soldiers who were buried in the local cemetery.

On the morning of May 5, the townspeople placed flowers, wreaths and crosses on the graves of the Union soldiers. They also lowered all the flags in the community to half-staff. It was not a joyous celebration, but rather a sober memorial.

The first official recognition of Memorial Day was issued by Gen. John A. Logan.