Friday, May 28, 2010

For Freedom

It’s Memorial Day weekend – the official start of summer. Tis the season for cookouts and lazy days at the river or lake. According to local news outlets this is the weekend where Americans begin the summer vacation season. We’re all supposed to take to the highways and skies and spend some of our hard earned greenbacks to aid our economy. In the spirit of true American capitalism we like to take any holiday and use it as an excuse to have a picnic, a mattress sale, and an opportunity for “door busting” ,”early bird” deals at the department store. In truth, Memorial Day has nothing AT ALL to do with these things. This holiday is to remember with honor those who gave their lives for our freedom, not to have cookout and a car sale.

I’m always left feeling melancholy even somewhat sad on Memorial Day weekend. I wonder if you do to. I think this feeling began after I got married and my husband had to work nearly every holiday. So while others were cooking out, swimming and enjoying the weather, I sat home alone. It was during those Memorial weekends when I sat alone that I bothered to remember the purpose of this holiday weekend.

PBS always broadcasts the national Memorial Day celebration from Washington, D.C. From the Capitol Mall, celebrities and members of the military both past and present honor the fallen. It’s always beautiful and moving. Watch it. I defy you not to cry.

On this day I’m reminded of my favorite talk radio host and columnist, Dennis Prager. His moral compass always points true north. He’s interesting and well, brilliant. What’s interesting to note about Mr. Prager, is that he broadcasts live on all holidays – except President’s Day, but that’s a blog for another time. His Memorial Day show is consistently one of my favorites. On this day he’ll talk about our country and those who serve. Listeners will call in with a tribute to a loved one. But his motivation for doing a live show is what is significant – because so many have sacrificed so much – he’ll just go ahead and work on a holiday. Perhaps Memorial Day isn’t the time for comfort and pleasure? Perhaps it’s a time for just the opposite? I think I agree with Mr. Prager.

Who is Freedom?
We speak of people dying for our freedom, but what does that even mean? When trying to put freedom in human terms, I’m positive Freedom is a woman. Actually she is more of a goddess of the ancient Greek type. Like Helen of Troy, she is intoxicatingly beautiful. To be in her presence would make you drunk with pleasure. One would be addicted to her after one encounter. To keep Freedom in our good graces men volunteer to kill for her. Thomas Jefferson said is best when he wrote, “The tree of liberty (Freedom) must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” So not only does Freedom require the blood of the “bad guys,” she desires the blood of those who love her. So our best young men volunteer to kill or be killed for Freedom. THEY VOLUNTEER!!!!

Much like a woman, however, Freedom is fickle. Many a sacrifice has been made at the altar of Freedom through the decades. Sometimes, sometimes a life is not enough. There are the times she requires her sacrifice to live. When death will not appease her¸ she’ll take just what she needs. Those who live are left with and lost limbs, broken spirits, ruined lives… But people volunteer still.

What to Do
What can we (I) do to be worthy of someone else’s sacrifice to Freedom for me? I don’t know. I truly have no idea. But I can be aware that it’s happening. I know I can be a witness and a testament to the selflessness and bravery so Freedom could endure.

So while you’re popping open a cold one, and before you take another ride on that jet ski this weekend, I hope you can be bothered to remember that fickle woman Freedom and what others are doing to keep her happy.

As the song posted below says, “America, I gave my best to you!”

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