|Tomb of Civil War Unknown Soldier -- Arlington Cemetery|
Memorial Day is a national holiday that has its roots in what was once known as Decoration Day. It was established in the late 19th century to honor Union Soldiers who had died during the Civil War. Since war has been part of our national ethos for much of our history, a day of remembrance of those who died to keep together a nation that President Lincoln had declared could not survive half slave and half free has become a day to remember all who have died in service to country. That is as it should be, though we can pray that the day will come when we're no longer adding names to the long list of those who have died in times of war.
Because this observance has its roots in remembering those who died in the Civil War (specifically
|Bloody Lane, Antietam|
I must confess that I have always identified with the Union cause. It is ironic that the party of Lincoln has now become the party of states rights. I am troubled, I will admit, by those who fly the Confederate battle flag. To me that runs contrary to one's identity as an American. We are the United States of America, not the Confederate States of America. As a result of that war we cemented the idea of our unity as a nation, so that we are first Americans and only secondarily citizens of a particular state.
For the past four years observances have been held remembering the Civil War. Now that we've reached the 150th anniversary of the end of the War, it will be easy for us to forget that defining moment in our nation's history, but we dare not forget. Calls for secession are a betrayal of our national identity. We dare not forget that we are many and diverse, but we also one nation. It is in that spirit that I stop to remember those who have died down through the years in service to country. It is also in that spirit that leads me to pray that war would cease and that would pursue peaceful means of resolving our differences.