Themes For Memorial Day Soliloquies

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"Our Town" By James W. Tucker

Hampton Union

Thursday, May 28, 1959

This Saturday is Memorial Day. This year, nothing sets it apart, either locally or nationally, from other Memorial Days. Last year, two more "Unknown Soldiers" were entombed at Arlington beside the representative of the men who gave their lives in World War I. These two were veterans of World War II and Korea. The national remained respectfully silent during the ceremonies attendant upon their entombment. The day of memory was unusually hallowed by this significant event.

Marine Memorial

Memorial Day in 1957 marked the dedication of the beautiful Marine Memorial at Hampton Beach. There a graceful lady of granite, wreath of tribute in hand, gazes out in eternal vigil over the sea where many New Hampshire soldiers, sailors, Marines [and Merchant Marines] rest from the wars. It is an unusual monument marking a unique tribute of which our state and our town may well be proud. Its dedication on Memorial Day in 1957 gave added importance to the holiday.

Run-of-the-Mill Holiday

But next Saturday is a run-of-the-mill Memorial Day with no outstanding events to distinguish it or to draw attention to its significance. Too many people will look upon it as merely the beginning of a long weekend of pleasure or of business. Too many people will avoid the responsibility which is theirs to regard the day seriously -- personally to observe it as a memorial to many over two million Americans who gave their lives in the wars our country has fought that we might enjoy freedom. Too many people will forget even to think about our obligation to the heroic men and women in whose honor sparsely attended services are held throughout the nation on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day Soliloquies

What an outstanding Memorial Day this Saturday would be if all citizens decided they would take an hour on that occasion to consider well their individual responsibilities in the light of conditions at home and abroad -- take an hour in which to reflect soberly on national and foreign affairs as their personal tribute to the dead of all our nation's wars! There could be no greater tribute.

Conflicting Ideologies

At Geneva, the Western representatives of hope and freedom, who believe in the integrity of the individual as a creature of God, are hopelessly deadlocked with the cohorts of Communism who believe in a Godless state which is superior to and master of the individual. How long it will take the Western World to become convinced that Communism is a conspiracy for world domination that will never be deterred from its goal, is an unanswered question for which every citizen has a degree of responsibility. Can it be that we are afraid to face the naked issue?

Hopeless Negotiation

Communism has no compunction about the manner in which it achieves an end. Obligations and contracts are made only to be broken at any convenient time. Whole nations are held in abject slavery and others are threatened with enslavement. Our country is ringed around with Soviet submarines engaged in spying activities and in maneuvers designed to make them invincible in case a "hot" war should break out. And it is with these bloody-handed, unscrupulous, lying murderers that we negotiate endlessly and hopelessly on all levels of government. Every citizen has a responsibility to think of these things and Memorial Day is a proper occasion for such thinking.

National Affairs

And with citizenship responsibility for considering events in the international field, goes the equal responsibility for the consideration of national affairs -- taxes, living costs, inflation, pressure blocks in Congress, labor racketeers, crime, integration, public schools, civil rights, bigotry -- all these divisive topics which tend to destroy the solidarity of our nation when we should be presenting a united front against the machinations of Godless Communism. Memorial Day is a fitting occasion to think of these things also.

The Three R's

A few weeks ago, on his next-to-the-last scheduled television program, we heard Arthur Godfrey discussing the "Three R's" with Sam Levinson, the ex-schoolteacher turned comedian. Both agreed that a fourth "R", responsibility should be stressed in public school education. The seeming lack of responsibility in so many adults, convinces us that along with writing, arithmetic and reading, children of tender age should be made acquainted with a sense of responsibility -- a trait of character with which youth should first become familiar in the home.

The Three R's That Spell War

By the way, we have always spoken in a semi-humorous vein of the "Three R's", but the initials of writing, arithmetic and reading spell WAR! As a matter of fact and in the light of history, the initials are prophetic. Every recent generation has either experienced war or has been prepared for it. Do we adults not have the responsibility of making certain our children enjoy peace and not WAR? Ponder that over this Saturday -- Memorial Day.

Loss of Freedom

Just so long as the inhuman doctrine of Communism is preached and practiced on earth, just so long we will be in danger of losing our cherished freedom. And that is exactly what we have been threatened with in every war beginning with the Revolution. The theme of all immortal American speeches has been liberty. Take, for instance Patrick Henry's speech in the Revolutionary Convention, meeting in St. John's Church in Richmond, Va. in 1775:

Patrick Henry's Speech

"Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth. Is this the part of wise men engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty?

"Are we disposed to be of the number of those, who, having eyes, see not and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and to provide for it.

Lamp of Experience

"I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past. Let us not, I beseech you sir, deceive ourselves longer. Sir, we have done everting that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; . . . . Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances shave produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned with contempt . . . . In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation . . . .

Phantom of Hope

"They tell us, sir, that we are weak -- unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? . . . . Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? . . . .

"It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry 'Peace, peace' -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

Defenders of Freedom

George Washington, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Henry Cabot Lodge and other great Americans have likewise been forthright in defense of the principles of freedom and justice. In the light of present day events and attitudes, their speeches would make proper reading for this Saturday -- Memorial Day.
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