Monday, May 30, 2022
Memorial Day Moment
I am at a family reunion this weekend celebrating the joys of family. We celebrate those that are here. At the same time, we remember and honor those who are gone. Some of those no longer with us have been lost in armed conflict or otherwise in service to their country--service to all of us.
Today, reflecting on all this, I have found it important to remind myself of the meaning of Memorial Day. It always has had special meaning to/for me. Yet, I was unfamiliar with the statute designating the national holiday. When I read it, it was not what I expected (although I do not plan to offer a lawyerly or personal critique here).
The last Monday in May is Memorial Day.
(b) Proclamation.—The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation—
(1) calling on the people of the United States to observe Memorial Day by praying, according to their individual religious faith, for permanent peace;
(2) designating a period of time on Memorial Day during which the people may unite in prayer for a permanent peace;
(3) calling on the people of the United States to unite in prayer at that time; and
(4) calling on the media to join in observing Memorial Day and the period of prayer.
36 U.S. Code § 116 (2018). In fact, the statute is not wholly representative of the history of Memorial Day. Nevertheless, it is poignant and powerful in its call for reflective time to offer a personal and collective solemn request for permanent peace. With members of our armed forces fighting for justice and freedom in service to our country every day, it seems more than appropriate for us to stop, one day each year, to honor the ultimate sacrifice of those who have lost their lives in that service and ask for lasting peace.