Here in my little New England state – and, I suspect, in most of the rest of the country – that means several things. It means cook-outs and beer. It means yard work and yard sales. It means a Monday “off”; no mail delivery, no school, no trash collection. It means parades and community pot-luck dinners and flags and geraniums and the Star Spangled Banner.
What I wonder, though, is what does it mean?
How do we go about honoring the war dead in a way that is good and true and right? How do we remember and value the service and sacrifice on the one hand, and deplore the mechanisms in the world that make those things necessary on the other? How do we reconcile a hatred for war with a love and respect for those who are asked to wage it? Perhaps even harder, how do we admire and remember those who deserve the esteem, who behaved honorably while fulfilling their duties, while not allowing that admiration to fall on those who don’t?
Finally, how do we turn that respect and recognition we’re compelled to give into actions that may make it possible that we may, in the future, have fewer and fewer war dead to commemorate?