Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day. It was observed on May 30 every year, rather than the most convenient last Monday of the month for a three-day weekend.
It was a solemn day, when people planted flowers at cemeteries. Now it is a party day; most young people think it commemorates the barbecue grill.
How do Americans rediscover the spirit of Decoration Day? Go to Arlington, or any other military cemetery, and walk in silence. Walk the fields at Gettysburg, or the beach at Normandy.
Closer to home, spend some time with a veteran. Let him do the talking. Attend a Memorial Day parade, or the annual ceremony at Fort Meigs State Memorial in Perrysburg.
Count the costs of war: One million men and women have died defending this country. This nation has spent 10 years at war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We should think at least twice about fresh wars with Syria, North Korea, and Iran. Someone you know has a son, a daughter, a grandson, or a granddaughter who would die in those wars.
“Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray,” Abraham Lincoln said during the Civil War, “that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.”
He continued: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”