Amazon Room
Ben's Seminar
25 May 2002
Topic: Memorial Day -- Why?

alremkin< Memorial Day, legal holiday, observed annually on the last Monday in May in most of the United States, in honor of the nation's armed services personnel killed in wartime. The holiday, originally called Decoration Day, is traditionally marked by parades, memorial speeches and ceremonies, and the decoration of graves with flowers and flags, hence the original name. Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868, on the order of General John Alexander Logan for the purpose of decorating the graves of the American Civil War dead. It was observed on May 30 until 1971, when most states changed to a newly established federal schedule of holiday observance. Confederate Memorial Day, formerly a legal holiday in many southern states, is still observed on the fourth Monday in April in Alabama, the last Monday in April in Mississippi, and April 26 in Florida and Georgia. Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

alremkin< Hi all, thought I'd get a jump on the question/topic.

cassandra< Thank you, alremkin. And in the olden days, the pioneer families cleared the graveyards in the Spring and repaired any damage done during the winter -- to the tombstones. After that they had a big dinner and everyone chatted and caught up on the news. It kept the community like a family. It was a day of memories shared as well as recipes.

greyman< why (adjective) For what purpose, reason, or cause; with what intention, justification, or motive: Why is the door shut? Why do birds sing? (conjunction) The reason, cause, or purpose for which: I know why you left. Usage Note: Many critics have held that why is redundant in the expression the reason why, as in "The reason why he accepted the nomination is not clear." While it is true that why could be eliminated from such examples with no loss to the sense, the construction has been used by reputable English writers since the Renaissance. Source: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

greyman< Respectfully submitted.

FRAML< Alremkin has already posted my summary. Are there any further comments?

alremkin< FRAML: I wanted to know a reasonably precise definition before we started, hence the pasted article.

FRAML< alremkin: That's fine -- good initiative.

FRAML< I never did get any questions worked up. My main question is: What does Memorial Day mean to you?

alremkin< FRAML: Sounds like a good question.

guitarist< Personally? I used to participate in Memorial Day parades as a Girl Scout. Many picnics, as well. The (unofficial) beginning of summer. Pools open. Many people visit the ocean for the first time of the season. I am somewhat ashamed to say that I don't associate Memorial Day with the thing it's meant for. On the other hand, I'm lucky I don't have any relatives who died while in the military (that I know of).

Yopo< Guess I'm at a bit of a loss here. Years back, when I was a kid, the military connection was stronger in my mind. And maybe in our culture's, in general. I remember parades. Air shows we went to. That was not so long after WW II, when those memories were fresh in the minds of my adult relatives. I'm thinking we've largely lost the important connection. Now we think of other stuff. The 500. A day off work. The beginning of summer activities...

guitarist< I can tell you that if I had grown up in Israel, I would have a very different attitude. Just about everyone there has lost someone close to them in war.

Yopo< My mind tends to turn to specific remembrances more on Veterans' Day, I guess...

greyman< Yopo, yes the underlining American culture has slowly deteriorated. Old values and culture are all but gone now.

selki< hmm ... Memorial Day ... to me it's a day that we set aside to honor those that kept our country free. They gave their lives for us. A day for us to remember.

Yopo< Maybe there's been too much commercialization, revolving around things totally unrelated to the holiday.

guitarist< Yopo, greyman -- thanks for reminding me that I'm not the only one who has lost the connection to the purpose of Memorial Day. *sigh*

selki< Yopo: Too much commercialization is true for most holidays.

yankl< Yopo: In that regard, Memorial Day is no different than Christmas, just another crass opportunity to make money; who cares what the holiday really means!

guitarist< Yopo: The commercialization and activities totally unrelated to the holiday sound familiar. We Americans seem to do that to other holidays, too (for example, Christmas, 4th of July).

Yopo< greyman: Generally speaking -- as a culture, I mean -- perhaps the American public is unconnected from any sense of personal sacrifice. Except for those who have had some direct experience of war, or are closely related to those who have, war tends to be something that strangers participate in, in places far away. It is primarily a TV show. In my parents' day, no one was untouched or uninvolved.

alremkin< To me it's a time to remember those who died in wars so that we're able to enjoy the standard of living and relative freedom we have. Often in newage chatrooms this is forgotten in the pursuit of the perfect philosophy. As it stands now we are the dominate military and economic power in the world because of our wealth and determination to maintain freedom as we know it, which is not to say it can't be improved. This improvement in the human condition is what will determine the future of humanity resulting from our free will. While our military means and sacrifices have brought our standard of living and relative freedom, our ending the cycle of violence is what will determine whether free will continues at this level. And because we enjoy the time to ponder our philosophies, we bear the greatest responsibility for resolving the violent human nature. As I see not much progress has been made. But on the other side, without the sacrifices, I think nearly everyone agrees we would be much worse off. So again: How can we change the violent human nature and keep life within our "comfort-level"?

guitarist< Good question, alremkin. And I wouldn't even begin to pretend I had an answer. I've come around to the view that the reason we have the same challenges come to us time and time again is because earth is a school where spirits learn by being in an environment with limits and where evil tends to look better than good most of the time. When things get too good and we solve too many problems, something comes along to set us straight. This doesn't absolve us from trying, though. We still have to try -- to resist evil, to solve problems without creating new ones, to heal the world as best we can.

FRAML< It is a major sports day with the Indy 500.

Yopo< FRAML: Yep. Sometimes referred to as the Memorial Day Race here.

greyman< Do you suppose the Indy 500 would become more interesting if light tanks were used. Explosive ordinance optional.

cassandra< It means a day of paying our respects to not only the members of the Armed Forces but to all the family. And in our country graveyard, one is related to almost all the people. The first meaning it had to me was that it was a family day, when everyone worked hard to clean up the graveyard and after that was done, someone gave a talk and then the women served an enormous and delicious dinner. Stories were told about our loved ones, and it was a time when we all caught up on what the families had been doing all year. That is what it meant at first to me -- in our small community. Then as I grew older, especially after World War II, I realized why so much respect was paid to the Flag, why men removed their hats and often had tears in their eyes as it went by. "Hats off, the flag is passing by!" Schoolmates that we knew had died for this right we had to be free, to keep America free, and to have a parade and celebrate. It meant being proud of your ancestor who had been brave and went through terrible things to earn us this freedom. It was a day when you remembered proudly that you were an American as you placed a flag on your Dad's grave. It mean patriotism and being glad you were an American.

selki< Cassandra: Yes, we always put flowers on our families graves on memorial day too.

FRAML< In 1868, Gen. John Logan attached a brief but beautiful statement of purpose to General Order 11, creating a day of memorial observance: "Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time."

selki< Everyone would go to the cemetery in the morning for the memorial day service ... that seems like a strange custom, but a lot of people went..

cassandra< selki: Yes. The people still believed in God and country. It was wonderful to hear your grandfather give a talk about the sacrifices that had been made, about the love that was given. My uncle had a limp that came from the war. There was also, besides the respect, love and laughter. A feeling of the greatness of our country.

selki< cassandra: People forget too soon. It's not like that now.

FRAML< Question #2: How you think the events of 11 September will affect people's view of Memorial Day?

selki< Personally I don't think that 9/11 had any affect. Most people think of memorial day as the kick off to summer.

Yopo< FRAML: That's a good question. I'm not sure how I would answer it, with respect to myself. I can't put an act of terrorism in the same category as a legitimate act of war, somehow. Pearl Harbor, for example -- as terrible as it was -- had some level of "legitimacy". I can't think of it as having been exactly dishonorable. I find thinking about this very confusing...

guitarist< I think Memorial Day will be renewed to a significant extent by the events of 9/11. Tonight on TV there was a variety show on the HHS Harry Truman where a number of people were entertaining the troops for Memorial Day. For the first time in many years, "war" -- referring to the actions we took in response to being attacked -- is not such a dirty word, either.

FRAML< Memorial Day = Life is a beach

selki< FRAML: Ya, Normandy Beach

FRAML< selki: good response.

cassandra< selki: You just beat me to it. That is what I thought.

FRAML< selki: Also Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Pelieu, Saipan, Anzio, Salerno, Sicily, North Africa, Southern France, Leyte, Luzon, -- Inchon (Korea)

selki< FRAML: I had uncles in Anzio. My dad was in Guadalcanal.

FRAML< And there are the deaths of our troops in Afghanistan.

greyman< I hope the country does not go back to sleep.

FRAML< Yopo: I see the attacks of 11 September as the first direct attacks against US soil in a war that has been going on for some time. People have already forgotten the attacks on the 2 embassies in eastern Africa and the USS Cole.

selki< FRAML: Well, that's what it's about. Not just WWII, but we have to remember Vietnam, the gulf war, and even now with our troops that died in Afghanistan, not to mention all wars prior to WWII -- right?

guitarist< Yopo: I heard someone on the radio say the same thing. I think we'd better get used to the idea that the nature of war has changed forever. Terrorism can bring on the wrath of the attacked nation in genuine war, just as any other kind of attack can.

selki< Oh, and what about the earlier bombing of the WTC? Wasn't that terrorists, too?

FRAML< selki: Yes, I forgot that.

alremkin< 9/11 is a reminder that life is still brutish in the third world and that even with the most powerful military ever, we're still vulnerable because no real progress has been made in spirituality. With all the drugs being smuggled into the country it's only a matter of time before there are nuclear detonations of smuggled bombs and chem/bio weapons. So in a sentence, 9/11 is a reminder, "we're not out of the woods yet."

cassandra< Sept 11th was such a terrible day that we will not feel like marching in celebration. A terrorist act -- a dirty, nasty thing. And already people are fussing over money and if the survivors were cheated. People did respond and rushed to their aid, but now heated discussions about petty things go on in Congress. A different kind of memorial day.

guitarist< Yes, selki, to all of the above. // FRAML, of course you are right. But it was the leadership of this country that chose not to respond to the embassy bombings and the attack on the Cole in an appropriate manner. No wonder no one else does either.

selki< I don't understand why our government did not respond to those attacks. I'm sure it gave the terrorists a sense of feeling that they can continue doing what they want and we would not do anything.

Yopo< Maybe I'd have to drop it in the category of "War Crimes" -- like the events at Auschwitz and Birkenau. Not legitimate acts of war. Such things need an entirely different category of remembrance...

cassandra< Yopo: Well said!!! I agree with you.

yankl< I think 9/11 created a short burst of patriotism, but people quickly go back to their everyday lives and forget the important issues. My father belonged to AMVETs and participated in activities every year on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Armed Forces Day, and so on, to remember the sacrifices and uncertainties we experienced during WWII. Today, many people are still living with the resentment created by the Vietnam Era.

selki< yankl: Ya, because of what Vietnam was. 58,000 Americans died in that war.

guitarist< Anyway, when we celebrate Memorial Day, we're remembering *our responses* to these bellicose challenges, not the challenges in and of themselves. Whether the challenges were legitimate acts of war is not the issue; rather, that we responded appropriately and bravely.

cassandra< I thought our government did all it could do as it sorts out the best way to deal with a new kind of war. These people are hid out all over the continents, waiting to attack again. And they will, when they want to, because we do not understand the way they think and act.

FRAML< I'm going to post 2 paragraphs from a Wall Street Journal Article: Our times are not unique in this way. In 1895, the Gilded Age, Oliver Wendell Holmes addressed the graduating class of Harvard University about remembrance and war. It was one of two great Memorial Day speeches delivered by Holmes, who had fought in the Civil War. In Cambridge he told his young audience:

FRAML< "Although the generation born about 1840, and now governing the world, has fought two at least of the greatest wars in history, and has witnessed others, war is out of fashion, and the man who commands attention of his fellows is the man of wealth. Commerce is the great power. The aspirations of the world are those of commerce. Moralists and philosophers, following its lead, declare that war is wicked, foolish, and soon to disappear. ... There are many, poor and rich, who think that love of country is an old wife's tale, to be replaced by interest in a labor union, or, under the name of cosmopolitanism, by a rootless self-seeking search for a place where the most enjoyment may be had at the least cost." Still, come 1917, a generation served.

cassandra< My son was in Vietnam -- in a tank with no ammo. But he firmly believed he should go, and I am proud of him. Those boys have such terrible memories that they can hardly live. And yet my son said the United States did Vietnam dirty.  And he should know. He worked in one of the offices at the end of the war.

FRAML< cassandra: Yes, due to political decisions made here.

guitarist< If we forget that there are terrorists just waiting for their signal *right here in America* then we are in danger beyond any we have ever faced before. The frustrating thing is we can't just kick them all out now, because it's not politically correct (i.e., the liberals will get offended and upset).

alremkin< In WWII my father served on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, and my uncle served under MacArthur in the liberation of Manila.

FRAML< The WSJ article concludes: "Some say Memorial Day should be reserved for those whose job it is to risk death for country. The larger point, I think, is that all the honorable national virtues that made men willing to sacrifice themselves in our past wars have, of a sudden, manifest themselves across America since September 11. We have a volunteer army now, which the Pentagon prefers, but one effect of that efficiency is to separate these professionals from the rest of us, except at wartime. We lose track of them and their important purpose, and when Memorial Day arrives, we (though not all) forget. That's not bloody likely again in our lifetime. On September 11, four planeloads of Americans were made prisoners of war and were executed in that war. A moment or two Monday is the time to honor them, and all in our history who have ever been like them."

guitarist< Amen, FRAML.

cassandra< I think it was terrible that people spit on our boys when they came home from Vietnam. How low can one sink? And Jane Fonda giving a note to the North Vietnamese that a soldier slipped to her to take home for him. And the diseases that came from the Gulf War. We should treat our veterans with great respect. God Bless Them!!!

alremkin< cassandra: Jane Fonda has always struck me as the "Great Whore" ready to jump on whatever bandwagon she perceives will further her career.

Yopo< *sigh* I fear I am becoming a bit of a cynic. I heard the other day that 40% of Iraq's oil exports are finding their way to the U. S. The oil fuels our commercial addictions, while the profits fuel the rapid rebuilding of Sadam's war machine. Don't get me wrong. I'm not cynical about the heart of heartland. I just think maybe it is led by some whose real interests are in the wrong places...

FRAML< Yopo: Yep, and we "can't" touch the oil in ANWR or off our coasts because "we don't want to 'harm' our environment."

guitarist< Best to check out what we hear, Yopo, as best we can. I've gotten several conflicting reports on which gas companies get their petroleum from OPEC and which don't. Can't tell which is right.

FRAML< That is all I have for tonight. I just wanted folks to think about what Memorial Day is really for and how it originated. Thank you for participating.

FRAML< /topic Remembering those who have sacrificed themselves for our freedom.

yankl< Thanks again for a stimulating discussion. I've barely got one eye open now, so I'm signing off.

cassandra< FRAML: I appreciated the paragraphs you posted. Sorry, if I got carried away here. But mothers and sweethearts will always feel the hurt of their loved ones. Well, the whole family will, of course. But our history books seem to have been changed a little in the schools.

FRAML< cassandra: The articles I posted are from an article on the Wall Street Journal website: Memorial Day After September 11. This year we'll remember more than just the military dead. BY DANIEL HENNINGER Friday, May 24, 2002

Yopo< Perhaps we missed our chance, sometime shortly after 1946. We might have used our Big Stick to have imposed a Pax Romana. *s* Though if we had, we might have Darth Vadar in office instead of G. Bush...

FRAML< http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/dhenninger/?id=110001756

cassandra< FRAML: I think I will copy them from your seminar. Okay?

FRAML< cassandra: Sure.

cassandra< FRAML: Okay, Thanks for the URL.

Yopo< FRAML: Actually, I remembered all this earlier in the week, as a salute was fired at my uncle's new gravesite, and as I visited the grave of my father. No cynicism there.

alremkin< Yopo: Yes.

Aiki-Walk< Hi, sorry ... husband just left for work ... new schedule ... will read the seminar ... hugs to all

FRAML< Aiki-Walk: Ack, night shift. (of course there was the 2 years of 4 days on, 4 days off, rotating 12 hour day/night shift when I was in the Army Operations Center at the Pentagon 20 years ago.)

guitarist< yankl did his share of split-shifting almost that long ago, FRAML.

FRAML< I think I shall depart to spend the remainder of the night worshipping at St. Sealy's. Thank you all for being here. Have a safe Memorial Day weekend. And thank you for knowing why.

Yopo< And a good night to you, FRAML. *S* Thanks for the seminar...

guitarist< Now we remember, thanks to you, FRAML. (Maybe I should speak for myself and thank the rest of you for reminding me too.)

cassandra< Yes, Thanks FRAML -- That was wonderful seminar.

FRAML< Aiki-Walk: Sleep well. You will be able to read tonight's seminar in review tomorrow.

Yopo< FRAML: *S* I recall that schedule. I spent 12 hour shifts in a hardened bunker, feeding tape into teletype and encryption machines. I could still hear the durn things as I was trying to get to sleep... *LOL*

FRAML< Yopo: I was in the 2nd sub-basement of the Pentagon. On the opposite side of the building from where the plane hit on 11 September.

Yopo< FRAML *hehe* Probably need a map to find your way in and out...

FRAML< Yopo: I did at first. *G*

cassandra< FRAML: My goodness!!!! And you didn't mention it or I didn't see where you were telling about it. Thank God you were on that side. I am just going to be selfish about it. We are all so glad you are here.

FRAML< But I was in the Pentagon 1980-82. On 11 September 2001 I was at work at Ft. McNair, 2 miles from the Pentagon. (Just to make sure folks don't get the impression from my previous post that I was in the Pentagon on 11 Sept.)

Yopo< 2 miles was plenty close enough...


guitarist< I remember being quite desperate to hear from FRAML and greyman to be sure they were OK after 11 September, and relieved to hear that neither was in harm's way.

cassandra< Yopo: Yes, you're right.  2 miles was plenty close enough.

guitarist< I remember Ben saying he heard the boom when the plane hit the Pentagon.

cassandra< Goodnight all. This was such a moving, feeling, being really connected with the words being said. A stirring of the heart.

Yopo< It's odd... The farther we get from 9/11 in time, the more I realize it was a dividing point in history, and that things this side are never going to be the same...

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