This Memorial Day we remember and honor those men and women in our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard who died in the line of duty protecting our American way of life. The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund (http://www.massmilitaryheroes.org/) plans to plant thousands of flags on Boston Common in memory of our fallen Massachusetts service members. These flags will be on display throughout Memorial Day weekend for your observance and reflection.
While honoring our fallen heroes, many of us also plan to enjoy this three-day weekend at the beach, the Cape (Cod or Ann), with a picnic, or otherwise in rest and relaxation as we kick off summer in New England. That is also fitting, for surely the aim of war is to secure a safer, happier, more prosperous and freer life once peace has been restored.
Many speeches have been made through the centuries, memorializing those who died for country and freedom, here's an exempt from one of the most well known and imitated:
"...Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. Its administration favors the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy..."--Pericles' Funeral Oration, 431 B.C.
So why the quotation from the dead past? Many agree that the ancient Athenian democracy was lost because of imperialistic expansionism and an unnecessary foreign war. The golden age of Athens --that flowering of democracy, art, literature, and philosophy-- came to a premature end with the ruinous 30-year war with neighboring Sparta. Some liberals and democrats today argue that America is, likewise, losing our Democracy at home in the prosecution of an ill-considered war of global military and business expansion.
Certainly there are some parallels. But equally certain, upon a more careful look, are the differences. The blame-America-first, cut-and-run crowd also saw parallels between the Peloponnesian War and the Cold War, but they were wrong. American freedom prevailed in that global conflict. And the demagogues in congress who demanded immediate withdrawal from Iraq (that sure worked out well) failed to note that the downfall of Athens was not Pericles' policy of strong Athenian military action against foreign threats. No, the destruction of Athens was Alcibiades, that calamity of a man, who thought that greatness consisted in following, not leading, public opinion.
Freedom is not free. This Memorial Day let us remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and honor them by committing ourselves to preserving American freedom in every way, big and small.