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Perspective: The meaning of Memorial Day


Today is Memorial Day, an almost unique holiday for us. We do not celebrate with joy; rather, we honor fallen soldiers with a wistful sadness in our hearts. Some of that sadness stems from the fact that so many of us know, or knew, some of those we honor.

We honor those brave men and women who gave what Lincoln termed "the last full measure of devotion". We honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country -- or, rather, for us. Given what they did, mere words seem inadequate.

We honor those who died giving birth to our country. We honor those who preserved the Union and ended what Lincoln called the scourge of slavery. Included as honorees are the black soldiers who were fighting for a freedom most people took for granted.

We honor those who fell in two world wars, wars fought for at least partially altruistic goals. Among those we honor are the Japanese Americans who in World War II formed one of the most decorated combat units in the Army, while many of their family members languished in detention centers here.

We honor those who fell in Korea and Vietnam, while most of us simply went about our business. We honor those who today still fight the long, lonely twilight war against terrorism.

What is a common theme in all these acts of sacrifice? In an old war novel an admiral, witnessing extraordinary heroism, wonders, "Where do we find such men?" Today, equally awestruck, we ask, "Where do we find such men and women?"

I'm Bob Evans and that is my perspective.


Robert Evans is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics, Business and Accounting at Rockford University and Associate Director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship. He is actively involved in the Rockford University public policy program, trains managers on law-related topics, is a political consultant and analyst, and also serves on non-profit boards.