July 8, 2008
Although Memorial Day was always commemorated every May 30th, now it is placed as the extra day off, after the last Sunday in May. This way, people have a long week-end for their many outdoor plans. But, what is the reason for this memorable day? Hardly a thought is given. As with almost all Holidays, this day has been flattened by the steam roller of materialism. The elder generations remember well, the solemnity of the Day, but it is doubtful, if our younger generations are even apprised of it.
Our major Holidays have succumbed to the commercialization of these days, as well as offering an opportunity to get away from it all. Not for a moment is the thought given, that our gallant fighting men and women gave their lives sacrificially, so that we can enjoy complete freedom. I think this is a sad and deplorable way to acknowledge our debt to them, and thereby give to them some of our time from our personal celebrations.
I firmly believe that Memorial Day is a sanctified day. It is the Day when we especially have an opportunity to honor the memory of those, fallen in battle, but also the memory of our Fathers and Mothers.
There is no question, that those, who gave their lives in battle, and those who watched over our lives within the peaceful confines of the home were always acting in our behalf.
As regards to our fighting men and women, it may very well be, that they did not completely think about that, for which they were fighting.
The military felt it their duty to serve, and they went wherever they were commanded to go. If the military were questioned regarding their fighting for their Country, there is no doubt that their answer would be, "to save our homes, and those we love."
In their greatest hour of danger, and as some lay wounded, or dying on the battlefield, the uppermost thought in their minds surely was their home. We also remember, that our Fathers and Mothers made all types of sacrifices, because of their love for their home.
What then, can we do for their sakes? How can we ever pay the debt owed to them? Simply, we must do all within our power, to preserve the homes they lived and died to save!
Unfortunately, all is not well with the American home. No observant person can deny, that our American culture is threatened by the breakdown of the home.
Great Cities face the decay of law and order for the same reason. Situations in most of our public schools are getting beyond control!
The question then will always be before us. "How can we pay the debt we owe to the men and women, who lived and died for America?" Of course, the word "freedom" comes to mind. America, the land of the free, is under attack from the outside enemies, as well as those from within. The threat is greater, because of the indifference and lethargy of so many Americans.
We are cold to our National Heritage; cold to our national heroes and our national destiny. Patriotism does not warm our blood. It appears that only that, which brings direct personal advantage, stimulates our concern.
Many of us well remember the days when we opened up our history books on our school desks and read the thrilling stories of our heroes, which sent the warmth of patriotism throughout our veins. Perhaps, events and heroes of American history may have been overidealized, but let it be said, that they were generally the kind, that should be idealized.
Over-idealizing is better for our souls and for our Nation, than is the "debunking" and under-rating our National Heritage. Let it not be considered trite to speak or sing on Memorial Day of "the land of the free, and the home of the brave."
So many people are remote from the holiness of Memorial Day. There has to be an awakening, in order to reclaim the Great Glory our Country once enjoyed.
I make it a habit to clip from the papers certain thoughts and quotations, and file for some future use. I vividly connect with the words in one of those clippings, of our great President, the late Dwight D. Eisenhower, who said: "Consider patriotism. I was about to say that patriotism once was taught in every home, and in every hamlet of our Nation. But the word 'taught' is hardly precise. Patriotism did not have to be taught ---- it was absorbed. It was there for all of us, a living emotion, that permeated the Nation. Some historians now tell us, that it was an unreasoning emotion, which sometimes blinded us to our faults. Maybe so, but it was an emotion, that on balance was good for the soul --- and good for the Country."
Another quote from a Morrie Ryskind plucks the strings of our hearts as we read a couple of his paragraphs titled: "A Return To The Faith Of Our Fathers." "The perceptive, outsider, says Mr. Ryskind, often sees the picture more clearly, than we ourselves can; and surely the French Scholar DeTocqueville wrote more penetratingly about us, that there are the current, home-grown critics, whose myopic eyes see only the Ugly American.
Among the things that impressed the French Scholar was the basic religious feeling of the Country. He said: "I do not mean a formalized creed, but rather the deep-rooted conviction, that the Lord had put his blessing on us from the very start, and would watch over us, as long as we walked the path of righteousness."
"And this was not just a Sunday Creed, but a seven-day week way of life. Indeed our very patriotism --- not yet a dirty word --- had a religious fervor. Old Glory was not just another flag, but a holy symbol; the legendary heroes of the Revolution were prophets and saints; those, who had toiled the long years to hammer out the Constitution had walked with God, and the finished product was an addendum to the precepts laid down at Mr. Sinai, for this was God's Country."
What beautiful and inspiring thoughts, of an era gone by, but which made our Nation, the Greatest one in the whole world. The words of Mr. Ryskind were well written and based on facts. The year was 1962. 1 wonder if he was living today, whether he could make the same report. Surely not. The liberals, who do not cling to any of the true values of life, have succeeded to substitute morality with immorality, and it happens that those, who hold to the lofty ideals of God and Country seem to be so powerless.
Right thinking people do question as to where our Country is headed, and how can we possibly reclaim our Glory, unless we return to the time tested eternal values.
For those, who take the time and truly appreciate, we shall forever stand indebted to all those, who sacrificed, so that we are able to enjoy the fruits of freedom. In the final analysis, it is up to all Christians, to safeguard and promote the eternal values, which have the power to elevate us and bring us to the level, from which we have fallen. Amen.
+ Fr. George Papadeas
“Therefore brethren stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word or our epistle.” - Thessalonians 2:15