We just finished a quiet evening with family in celebration of Memorial Day. I am blessed to have a father and father-in-law who served in World War II and Korea, respectively. Unlike many of their close friends, they were able to come home, start families, and live through the life we know as the American Dream. Thanks goes out to both of them, and at the same time we remember their fallen colleagues who did not make it home.
I spoke a little with my daughter, Caroline, about the meaning of Memorial Day. Occasionally I listen to talk radio, and one of the prominent hosts this week has been having some fun with the fact that college graduates don’t know the National Anthem. So, I figured I would see how well my girls knew it. They did just fine. And of course, we talked about what it meant to live in the “land of the free, and the home of the brave.” The fact that we have brave people like my father and father-in-law allows us to live in the land of the free.
Caroline, who is eight years old, offered this observation about the death of her grandfathers’ friends during wartime: “In a way, their death could have been good, in the sense that it made their friends mad enough to kill their enemies. Revenge is not good, but in times like that it can be important in winning a war, like World War II, Korea, or Vietnam.”
I was a little surprised at this prescient view of life and death from an eight-year-old mind. She is right, of course. And no doubt she got some sense of this from listening to stories from her grandfather. (And her understanding that revenge is not good no doubt comes from Sunday School.)
We must make sure every generation remembers the cost of freedom. If we think carefully and circumspectly about that cost, we are less likely to turn it into a license to be an idiot. And we could certainly do with more circumspection these days.
A Happy Memorial Day to all who live in the land of the free, and the home of the brave.