LEST WE FORGET
Memorial Day 2015 May 25th
Traditional Memorial Day May 30th
What follows are three selected writings on the subject of sacrifice and remembrance, neither of which should ever be forgotten.
“We may occasionally be tempted to ask ourselves what we gained by the enormous sacrifices made by those to whom this memorial is dedicated. But that was never the issue with those who marched away. No question of advantage presented itself to their minds. They only saw the light shining on the clear path to duty. They only saw their duty to resist oppression, to protect the weak, to vindicate the profound but unwritten Law of Nations. They never asked the question, “What shall we gain?” They asked only the question, “Where lies the right?”
-from a speech by Winston Churchill at the dedication of a World War I memorial in 1925
“War is not just a military campaign but also a parable. There were lessons of camaraderie and duty and inscrutable fate. There were lessons of honor and courage, of compassion and sacrifice. And then there was the saddest lesson of all, to be learned again and gain in the coming weeks as they fought across Sicily, and in the coming months as they fought their way back toward a world at peace; that war is corrupting, that it corrodes the soul and tarnishes the spirit, that even the excellent and the superior can be defiled, and that no heart would remain unstained.”
-from The Day of Battle – The War in Sicily and Italy 1943-44
by American historian Rick Atkinson 2007
“With music strong I come, with my cornets and drums,
I play not marches for accepted victors only – I play great marches for conquer’d and slain persons.
Have you heard that it was good to gain the day?
Battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won . . . . .
Vivas to those who have failed!
And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea!
And to those themselves who sank in the sea! And all overcome heroes!
And to the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known.”
-from Song of Myself 1855 by Walt Whitman