Though my family has served in various wars going back to the American Revolution, we have not experienced the loss of a family member to battle. We are thankful to those of you who have. Your loved ones offered the ultimate sacrifice to defend our liberties.
Our country has set aside the last Monday in May as Memorial Day to honor our fallen soldiers. We did not set aside a day of “Remembrance” though we certainly remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Instead, we set aside a day that calls attention to the monuments (memorials) created to honor our war dead.
Somber evidence of our national intent can be seen in the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Built of Colorado marble, the tomb’s imposing presence demands honor and remembrance. The only words are inscribed on the back of the tomb, “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” Having witnessed a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb, I can attest to the power of a monument.
Many towns and counties have local Memorial Day ceremonies. The ceremonies usually take place at a soldier’s monument to one of the various wars. The most intimate of ceremonies are found in local cemeteries where flags are planted and wreaths are placed on the individual headstones of our fallen soldiers.
Like the Tomb of the Unknowns, these local monuments and headstones bear inscriptions from past generations that honor the most valiant among us. The monuments are among our most important inherited cultural artifacts. They remind us that a vein of courage runs though our history..
Remember this when the next Confederate monument disappears from public view. The same spirit of revisionist cultural cleansing will eventually wash over monuments much closer to us in time and place.