Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Editorial Award

I've been scanning around the editorials on Memorial Day and I have to say I find Hitchen's piece to be the most noteworthy.
A memorial to, and for, all is certainly an improvement on the Arc de Triomphe/Brandenburg Gate style, which was regnant until 1918 and which asserted national exclusivity. Kemal Ataturk did a noble thing when he raised a monument to all those who fell at Gallipoli, and informed the British and Australian peoples that their "Tommies and Johnnies" would lie with his "Alis and Mehmets." But there are also disadvantages to a memorial that is too "inclusive." Not even President Reagan's fine speech at the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc has erased his crass equation of the "victims" at Bitburg cemetery with their victims. Bitburg is not Gettysburg: Some wounds cannot and perhaps should not be healed. The opposite danger also exists: Our "Memorial Day" is now the occasion of a three-day holiday weekend (over the protest of the Veterans of Foreign Wars) and has become somewhat banal precisely because it seems to honor nobody in particular.
The overall sentiment is valuable on the day that most people just have a barbecue and a beer and think of this as the step-off to the summer.

1 comment:

Granted said...

There's still proper sentiment in the country, even in the People's Republic of Massachusetts. The Scouts & Brownies marched with the local school bands and the American Legion vets. My kids could tell me what Memorial day was for and when it was instituted because they were taught it IN SCHOOL (yeah, I was shocked). All the good things are still out there, they're just a bit reduced and highly masked behind the media monster.