Search This Blog

Showing posts with label Memorial Day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Memorial Day. Show all posts

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day – A Reflection


Memorial Day is a day set aside for reflection, a day meant for us to honor our fallen dead.

The meaning of Memorial Day has changed a great deal since it was founded. At its inception, the day was set aside to honor the African-American soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War, both our soldiers who were born-free, as well as those who were former slaves; men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who gave everything they had to keep the United States of America whole, and to make it a free nation.

Memorial Day was established to honor those who died for an America which they only dreamed could exist. They died for these United States, for a vision of it that they prayed for, but was not yet real; they got something different, they got this reality, an America that is still in a state of becoming, one that is more or less just, depending on where you are born, what color your skin is, what class you belong to.

Those men and women died for us, for good or ill, they died for us. They died for promises that went un-realized, they died for a dream deferred, as our poet Langston Hughes wrote of the African-American experience in his poem Harlem[i]:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

We have yet to repay those good people, we have yet to fulfill their hopes for the America they dreamt of; America, daughter of liberty, America the true and good, America the arbiter of justice, an America that could be if we pursue the dream of her, and exercise the will to make it so.

Now, we honor our dead on this day; our soldiers and sailors and airmen, our police and firefighters; we honor them.

We are too frequently called upon to honor children, children who stand in the way of gunfire to protect their classmates, who had to pay for it with their lives.

We must honor them and their sacrifice, all of them who died upholding our most cherished values, we honor them in recognition of the fact that we are one people descended from many nationalities and ethnicities, and that we each come into the world with the absolute right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that all other rights are subordinate to these. 

This year we are called upon to honor all of our citizens who have spent their lives, giving it to public service. We honor our teachers and the good works of our ordinary citizens, of our friends and neighbors, we honor the sacrifice of everyone, known and unknown, and those yet to come.

We must honor the 100,000 Amricans and more who have perished from a deadly coronavirus we call COVID-19, and we must honor the doctors and nurses, the EMTs and paramedics, the orderlies and custodians who are charged to risk their lives and give their lives to care for them.

On this day of all days, do not make the mistake of thinking that it is our service women and men who keep us free.

It has been at least sixty years since America faced an “existential” threat from a foreign power.

We are not kept free through armed conflict.

We do not face such an existential threat from beyond our borders and shores right now; not from Iran, not from North Korea, not from Russia, not from China or anywhere.

The real threat we face is from ourselves, we face an existential threat of ignorance, short-sightedness and greed.

We stand in our own way; we, and we alone who can protect us from ourselves.

Our apathy and selfishness, our prejudice and hatred, our gluttony and cowardice, these are the most dangerous forces aligned against us, these are the forces that threaten our freedom. They are more deadly than any other worldly power, these are the forces which have gone unchecked by our elected representatives, even encouraged by our President and his criminal regime that are killing our fellow Americans in numbers greater than the last five decades of armed conflict.
It is shameful and terrifying.  

To honor our fallen dead, you must do your part to keep us free. You must participate in our democracy.

Vote, stay informed, organize, build alliances and collaborate.

Our collective failure as citizens of the Unites States has allowed a criminal, autocratic, demagogue to hold power in the White House, allowed the Supreme Court to state that corporations are to be treated as people, and money regarded as free speech, while those same justices have told ordinary American’s that their right to free speech does not include the right to be heard, and that our right to vote does not include the guarantee that our votes will be counted.

This rank cynicism is more dangerous to our lives and freedom than any rag tag group of militants half way around the world, more dangerous than immigrants looking for a better life on our side of the border we share, people who are only seeking the same thing as my own forebears did when they came here a little over a hundred years ago.

Honor our fallen dead. Not with cards and flowers and barbeques (but do those things because they are good), honor them by standing up to racism and bigotry, to religious zealotry and corporate greed, to scientific ignorance and xenophobia, to corruption in our public officials in our highest offices, and to the notion that the right to keep and bear arms does not include our responsibility to regulate them.

Honor them by participating in public discourse. Do not lose heart, and do not give up.

Honor them by wearing a face mask when you go out in public, by practicing social distancing, and by supporting your neighbors in the weeks and months and years ahead, as we rebuild our country in the hopes of achieving the dream that is still being deferred.

Stand up, and be counted!

We must rebuild America and reform our institutions; we must do this for the sake of all Americans and all future generations.

We must take responsibility for our live and freedom.

We will have nothing to protect if we let apathy and ignorance, selfishness ad gluttony provide a vector for a virus that cannot distinguish between borders and political parties.

Honor the fallen, in this way.

Participate!

Jay P. Botten, Veteran, U.S.N., Hospital Corps, 1990 – 1994



[i] Langston Hughes, "Harlem" from The Collected Works of Langston Hughes. Copyright © 2002 by Langston Hughes. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates, Inc.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day - A Reflection


Memorial Day is a day set aside for reflection. It is a day meant for us to honor our fallen dead.

The meaning of Memorial Day has changed a great deal since it was founded. At its inception, it was meant to honor African American soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War, both  our soldiers who were born-free, as well as those who were former slaves; men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who gave everything they had to keep the union whole.

Memorial Day was created to honor those who died for an America which they only dreamed could exist. They died for these United States, for a vision of it that the prayed for, but was not yet real; they got something different, they got this reality, an America that is still in a state of becoming, one that is more or less just, depending on where you are born, what color your skin is, what class you belong to.

Those men and women died for us, for good or ill, they died for us. They died for promises that went un-realized.

We have yet to repay them, we have yet to fulfill their hopes for the America they dreamt of; America, daughter of liberty, America the true, and good, America the arbiter of justice.

Now, we honor our dead on this day; our soldiers and sailors and airmen, our police and firefighters; we honor them.

We honor all of our citizens who spent their lives, who gave their days to public service; we honor our doctors and nurses and teachers, the good works of our ordinary citizens, of our friends and neighbors, we honor everyone’s sacrifices; known and unknown, and those yet to come.

This year we must even children, who stood in the way of gunfire to protect their classmates and paid for it with their lives.

We must honor them, and their sacrifice, they died upholding our most cherished values, in recognition of the fact that we are one people, that we are descended from many nations, and that we each come into the world with the absolute right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that all other rights are subordinate to these. 

On this day of all days, do not make the mistake of thinking that it is our service women and men who keep us free.
It has been at least sixty years since America faced an “existential” threat from a foreign power.

We are not kept free through armed conflict.

We do not face such an existential threat from beyond our borders and shores right now; not from Iran, not from North Korea, not from Russia, not from anywhere.

The real threat we face is from ourselves, from our ignorance and from our fear.

It is we, and we alone who can protect us from ourselves.

Our own apathy, our prejudice and hatred, these are the most dangerous forces aligned against us, that threaten our freedom. They are more deadly than any other worldly power.

To honor our fallen dead, you must do your part to keep us free. You must participate in our democracy.

Vote, stay informed, organize, build alliances and collaborate.

Our collective failure as citizens of the Unites States has allowed a criminal, autocratic, demagogue to hold power in the White House, allowed the Supreme Court to state that corporations are to be treated as people, and money regarded as free speech, while those same justices have told ordinary American’s that their right to free speech does not include the right to be heard, and that our right to vote does not include the guarantee that our votes will be counted.

This rank cynicism is more dangerous to our freedom than any rag tag group of militants half way around the world, more dangerous than immigrants looking for a better life on our side of the border we share, they are only seeking the same thing as my own forebears did when they came here a little over a hundred years ago.

Honor our fallen dead. Not with cards and flowers and barbeques (but do those things because they are good), honor them by standing up to racism and bigotry, to religious zealotry and corporate greed, to scientific ignorance and xenophobia, to corruption in our public officials in our highest offices, and to the notion that the right to keep and bear arms does not include our responsibility to regulate them.

Honor them by participating in public discourse. Do not lose heart, and do not give up.

Stand up, and be counted!

We must rebuild America, reform our institutions, we must do this for the sake of all Americans and our future generations. We must take responsibility for our own freedom.

We will have nothing to protect if we let our freedom be stolen from us while we are busy watching TV, posting pictures on social media of the last meal we ate, and arguing with one another about who is the most liberal, most progressive, most concerned about the common good.

Honor the fallen, in this way.

Participate!

Jay P. Botten, Veteran, U.S.N., Hospital Corps, 1990 – 1994

Given 1st 2015.05.25

Revised 2019.05.27

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day


Memorial Day is a day set aside for reflection. It is a day meant for us to honor our fallen dead.

The meaning of Memorial Day has changed a great deal since it was founded. At its inception, it was meant to honor African American soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War, both  our soldiers who were born-free, as well as those who were former slaves, men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who gave everything they had, to keep the union whole.

Memorial Day was created to honor those who died for an America which they only dreamed could exist. They died for these United States, for a vision of it, but they got something different, they got this reality, an America that is still in a state of becoming.

Those men and women died for us, for good or ill, they died for us.

We have yet to repay them, we have yet to fulfill their hopes for the America they dreamt of; America, daughter of liberty, America the true, arbiter of justice.

Now, we honor our dead on this day; our soldiers and sailors and airmen, our police and firefighters; we honor them.

We honor all of our citizens who spent their lives, who gave their days to public service; we honor our doctors and nurses and teachers, the good works of our ordinary citizens, of our friends and neighbors, we honor everyone’s sacrifices; known and unknown, and those yet to come.

This year we must honor teachers, in Santa Fe, Texas; in Parkland, Florida; and elsewhere, who stood in the way of gunfire to protect their students and paid for it with their lives.

We must honor them, and their sacrifice, they died upholding our most cherished values, in recognition of the fact that we are one people, that we are descended from many nations, and that we each come into the world with the absolute right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that all other rights are subordinate to these. 

On this day of all days, do not make the mistake of thinking that it is our service women and men who keep us free. It has been at least sixty years since America faced an “existential” threat from a foreign power.


We do not face such a threat right now; not from Iran, not from North Korea, not from Russia, not from anywhere.

The real threat we face is from ourselves, from our ignorance, and from our fear.

It is we, and we alone who can protect us from ourselves.

Our own apathy, prejudice, and hatred, these are the most dangerous forces aligned against us, against our freedom. They are more deadly than any other worldly power.

To honor our fallen dead, you must do your part to keep us free. You must participate in our democracy.

Vote, stay informed, organize, build alliances, and collaborate.

Our collective failure as citizens of the Unites States has allowed a criminal, autocratic, demagogue to hold power in the White House, allowed the Supreme Court to state that corporations are to be treated as people, and money regarded as free speech, while those same justices have told ordinary American’s that their right to free speech does not include the right to be heard, and that our right to vote does not include the guarantee that our votes will be counted.

This rank cynicism is more dangerous to our freedom than any rag tag group of militants half way around the world, more dangerous than immigrants looking for a better life on our side of our border, as my own forebears did when they came here a little over a hundred years ago.

Honor our fallen dead. Not with cards and flowers and barbeques (but do those things because they are good), honor them by standing up to racism and bigotry, to religious zealotry and corporate greed, to scientific ignorance and xenophobia, to corruption in our public officials, in our highest offices, and to the notion that the right to keep and bear arms does not include our responsibility to regulate them.

Honor them by participating in our public discourse. Do not lose heart, and do not give up.

We must rebuild America, reform our institutions, for the sake of Americans and our future generations. We must take responsibility for your own freedom.

Honor the fallen, in this way.

Jay P. Botten, Veteran, U.S.N., Hospital Corps, 1990 – 1994

Given 1st 2015.05.25

Revised 2016.05.3, Revised 2017.05.29

Revised 2017.05.28

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day set aside for reflection. It is meant for us to honor our fallen dead.
The meaning of this day has changed much since its founding. At its inception, it was meant to honor our African American soldiers, both the soldiers born-free and the former slaves who gave their lives, men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who gave everything they had, to keep the union whole.
They died for an America which they only dreamed could exist. They died for these United States, for this reality, an America that is still in a state of becoming.
They died for us, for good or ill, they died for us.
We have yet to repay them, to fulfill their hopes for the America they dreamt of; America, daughter of liberty, of truth, and justice.
We honor our dead on this day; our soldiers and sailors and airmen, our police and firefighters; we honor them. We honor all of our citizens who spent their lives, who give their days to public service; we honor our doctors and nurses and teachers, the good works of our ordinary citizens, of our friends and neighbors, we honor everyone’s sacrifices; known and unknown, and those yet to come.
This year we must honor two men who gave their lives, just days ago, on a train in Portland, Oregon. The stood up to man who was berating two Muslim women. The man turned and attacked them with a knife, killing them before he fled.
We must honor them, and their sacrifice, they died upholding our most cherished values, that recognition that we are one people come from many nations, and that we each come into the world with the absolute right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  
On this day of all days, do not make the mistake of thinking that it is our service women and men who keep us free. It has been at least sixty years since America faced an “existential” threat from a foreign power.
We do not face such a threat right now; not from ISIS, not from North Korea, not from Russia, not from anywhere.
The real threat we face is from ourselves, from our ignorance, and from our fear, the mind killer, the little death that brings total obliteration, we must face that fear and confront it.
It is we, and we alone, who can protect us from ourselves.
Our own apathy, our prejudice, and our hatred, these are more dangerous forces aligned against us, against our freedom. They are more deadly than any power in the world.
To honor our fallen dead, you must do your part to keep us free. You must participate in our democracy.
Vote, stay informed, organize, build alliances, and collaborate.
Our collective failure has placed a criminal, autocratic, demagogue in the White House, allowed the Supreme Court to state that corporations are to be treated as people, and money regarded as free speech, while those same justices have told ordinary American’s that the right to free speech does not include the right to be heard, and that the right to vote does not include the guarantee that your vote will be counted.
This rank cynicism is more dangerous to our freedom than any rag tag group of militants half way around the world, more dangerous than immigrants looking across our borders, looking to us for a better way of life, as my own forebears did when they came here.
Honor our fallen dead. Not with cards and flowers and barbeques (but do those things because they are good), honor them by standing up to racism and bigotry, to religious zealotry and corporate greed, to scientific ignorance and xenophobia, and corruption in our public officials, in our highest offices.
Honor them by participating in our public discourse. Do not lose heart, and do not give up.
We must rebuild America, reform our institutions, for the sake of Americans and our future generations. We must take responsibility for your own freedom.
Honor the fallen, in this way.
Jay P. Botten, Veteran, U.S.N., Hospital Corps, 1990 – 1994
Given 1st 2015.05.25, Revised 2016.05.31

Revised 2017.05.29

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day set aside; and meant for us to honor our fallen dead.
The meaning of this day has changed much since its inception. Originally, it was meant to honor our African American soldiers; both free and former slaves who gave their lives, both men and women, both mothers and fathers, sons and daughters both, to keep the union whole.
They died for an America they only dreamed existed. They died for these United States; for this reality, which is still in a state of becoming. They died for us; for good or ill, they died for us.
We honor our dead; our soldiers and sailors and airmen, our police and firefighters; we honor them. We honor all of our citizens who spent their lives, who spend their lives in public service; we honor our doctors and nurses and teachers, the good works of our ordinary citizens, of our friends and neighbors, we honor everyone’s sacrifices; known and unknown, and yet to come.
On this day of all days, do not make the mistake of thinking that it is our service women and men who keep us free. It has been at least sixty years since America faced an “existential” threat from a foreign power.
The real threat we face is from ourselves. It is only we; who can protect us from ourselves.
Our own apathy, our prejudice, and our ignorance; these are more dangerous to us, to our freedom, than any power in the world. To honor our fallen dead; you must do your part to keep us free. You must participate in our democracy.
Vote, stay informed, organize.
Our collective failure has allowed the Supreme Court to name corporations as people, and money as free speech, while those same justices have told ordinary American’s that the right to free speech does not include the right to be heard, and that the right to vote does not include the guarantee that your vote will be counted.
That rank cynicism is more dangerous to our freedom than any rag tag group of militants half way around the world, more dangerous than immigrants looking to us for a better way of life, as my forebears did when they came here.
Honor our fallen dead. Not with cards and flowers and barbeques (but do those things because they are good), honor them by standing up to racism, bigotry, religious zealotry, corporate greed, scientific ignorance, xenophobia, and corruption in public officials; honor them by participating.
Rebuild America, reform our institutions, for the sake of Americans and our future generations. Take responsibility for your own freedom. Honor the fallen.
Jay P. Botten, Veteran, U.S.N., Hospital Corps, 1990 – 1994
Given 1st 2015.05.25

Revised 2016.05.31