Memorial Day: A Salute to the Fallen


“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Begun in the United States following the American Civil War, Memorial Day is a time to dodge the momentary distractions of policy, and in deep sobriety lift up the highest traits of humankind. We do not lift up war, but the lives of those taken lifeless from the field of battle. Today, we honor love. We honor service. We honor sacrifice.

Generations are defined by great challenges and even greater humans willing to give all to overcome these challenges. Some have led, and others have followed. But all such servants have left behind such a legacy as lights our paths and guides our steps.

Every year, Memorial Day becomes more important. Increasingly, modern conveniences isolate us from one another, lifting the individual over the community and creating for every man a community of one. Our worlds have become ours and ours alone, and in the glare of our own spotlights, the world has darkened. The civil body politic has dimmed. The last Monday of May has lost its meaning even while the need for its transcendent reminders has become most keen.

Today, we remember the blood shed on our behalf and the lives of those who gave it. We mourn their passing as we bask in the light of their example. We toast their sacrifice and revel together with the bonds of love and service that drove them to their early graves. We renew our commitment to the ideals that they espoused.

On this holy day of remembrance, let us emulate the Greeks and Romans of old and spread our flowers upon the graves of our dead. Let us honor their gift with the triumphant giving of ourselves to one another.

Mors tua, vita mea. Your death, my life. We who are alive salute you.

Ross Hougham

Ross Hougham works for the American Principles Project.

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