National Moment of Remembrance: A thought inside a thought

“Ten,” “nine” “eight …”

I have been counting down the minutes to the National Moment of Remembrance this Memorial Day. Not familiar with the National Moment of Remembrance? I wasn’t until some 11, no make that 13 minutes ago. The minutes now quickly pass until this nationwide observance is set to take place. That time is 3 p.m. Eastern time each Memorial Day. I even found a countdown clock to help me watch the minutes tick, tick, tick away. Passed by Congress — “Two minutes, 11 seconds, 10 seconds … ” — and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000 the national moment:

Department of Defense photo

  ” … was established to remind Americans of the sacrifices made by members of the Armed Forces as well as others who have died as a result of service to this nation. Americans around the world should pause and remember these heroes in a symbolic act of unity.”

“54 seconds, 53 … 29, 28 … ” Okay, enough. It’s officially here.

Bang a gong, blow a horn, be pensive, let loose a rebel yell, drink a shot of Rebel Yell, do whatever you want to do but remember. That’s the purpose of Memorial Day and the moment: to remember.

The Web site for the organization “No Greater Love” (NGL) — the one with the countdown clock — explains that the remembrance to remember event came about when NGL founder Carmella LaSpada received a unsettling answer to a question about the meaning of Memorial Day.

A group of school kids were touring Washington, D.C., in 1996 and one of the children replied to LaSpada’s question: “That’s the day the pool opens.”

That called for a moment of silence, if you ask me.

Then again, most of the population these days hardly know anyone who has served in uniform much less a service member who was killed in the line of duty. Even I, who grew up during the Vietnam War and served in the military at the tail end of the conflict, fortunately have known few who made that ultimate sacrifice in the nation’s wars. In fact, I only remember having met one of several guys from my small school who were killed in Vietnam. I also covered two military funerals as a reporter. One was for a helicopter pilot who was killed shortly after the end of Gulf War I. The other honored a Marine who had been missing for more than 30 years in Vietnam and whose remains were returned to his east Central Texas soil.

Any act that sparks thoughts of our fellow Americans concerning war and its unrecoverable costs is worthwhile, I suppose. But it is as well sad on some level that we have to be reminded the reason for the holiday we are celebrating with a remembrance on that day, don’t you think?

I would imagine that family and friends of those who were killed in America’s battles whom I have known or, at least, knew their families pause to think of that person more than once or twice a year. And I am not preaching from some high horse here. There are as many practical reasons as many as sentimental ones why John Doe or Jane Doe or little Johnny Doe should think about those who fight and die in the name of our country and its qualities. One only has to think of the great numbers of young American lives that were lost — some thousands or tens of thousands in the Civil War — in the name of liberty. As well we must remember those who died in our questionable uses of force.

These thoughts should guide our collective conscience as a freedom-loving and civilized society. For, once we fully realize the true, agonizingly sorrowful cost of war, we as well have to give our leaders their full support for or steadfast opposition against the use of force and our most beloved resource.

Think about it.



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