Why We’re Forgetting How to Observe Memorial Day

By John Horvat II Published on May 27, 2018

Memorial Day is here, and many see it as little more than the unofficial beginning of summer. The holiday was once marked by religious services, parades, and speeches nationwide. Now, however, some do not even know what we’re supposed to be remembering. As a result, its proper observance is waning.

Some think the purpose of the day is remember everyone who has died. Actually, the day was officially set aside as a day to remember those who have perished in the nation’s wars. We honor those whose lives were cruelly cut short for the sake of others. This is the highest of all sacrifices since, as the Gospel tells us, “greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13).

The day was officially set aside as a day to remember those who have perished in the nation’s wars.

In remembering those who died, we recall much more than the simple names of the fallen. The national holiday speaks to us of three higher realities upon which we should reflect.

Recalling Fallen Humanity

Memorial Day speaks to us of our fallen humanity. By Original Sin, we are fallen, and so we will all die. This same fallen nature ensures that sin and discord will always occur in this vale of tears. Wars and battles will always be fought. Thus, soldiers will fall and die.

We can thus reflect upon our fallen condition and the existence of evil. We can take comfort in the fact that we have overcome many of the evils of the day in the battles of the past. These lives were not lost in vain, and thus it is fitting that their deeds not be forgotten. Nor should we forget the dark deeds of those who have succumbed to evil and shattered the peace.

By remembering the brave deeds of the fallen, we might also imitate their valor and sacrifices. We can also be mindful of the evil of which we are capable and must avoid.

Values Greater Than Life Itself

Memorial Day speaks to us of values higher than life itself. We remember those who gave up their lives so that others might live. We can honor those high values, which led them to make the supreme sacrifice.

Many fallen soldiers held the good of the nation to be above the value of their lives. Others fell so that the remnants of Christian civilization might still survive. They opposed evil ideologies like radical Islam, Nazism and especially communism that threatened peace and freedom, and still threaten the world. They stood in the breach at a crucial time.

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By remembering the values of the fallen, we challenge the shallow hedonistic and selfish values that today prevail. We call upon all to go beyond an attitude where people live only for themselves and their comforts.

Buttressed by their courage, we can now make our commitment to continue the fight they began.

An Immortal Soul

Finally, Memorial Day speaks to us of our immortal destiny and God’s Providence. For if we do not have immortal souls, to what purpose do we recall the fallen? Life and history would have no meaning, and the fallen would be fleeting shadows with no final end.

It’s not surprising that proper observance of Memorial Day is waning. The pace of modern life has quickened to where we don’t have time to meditate on the past.

However, our memory of the fallen reminds us of the Day of Judgment, that grand Memorial Day when all acts will be recalled, known and judged. We will then see where we fit in that impressive narrative of life that we call history.

In remembering those who died in battle, we are comforted by sensing the hand of Divine Providence that directs the course of the affairs of each person with purpose and benevolence. That same Providence also guides and provides for the affairs of families, societies and nations. Thus, we are reminded of our own end. We are invited to see and confide in the designs of Providence.

It is not surprising that the proper observance of Memorial Day is waning. The pace of modern life has quickened to where we do not have time to meditate on the past. The emphasis is upon the intemperance of the present, in which people want things instantly and effortlessly.

We do this at our peril. Recalling the past helps us prepare better for the future. It helps us understand our role in history. It helps us remember that which should never be forgotten.


John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.

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  • tz1

    My father was combat wounded in WW2, so was half lucky. Decoration Day is just before the anniversary of D-Day where many gave their lives.

    For what? So that Europe can be a haven for Muslims who create sharia no-go zones, slit the throats of priests, and rape European women while demanding more and better handouts? And so that the same thing can happen to Mogadishu on the Mississippi, AKA Minneapolis? And not only bring their quaint customs like Female Genital Mutilation, but diseases like highly drug resistant Tuberculosis, measles, and things not seen in the USA for a generation. My father had to work hard. I have to work hard. Refugees get free food, free medical care, free large homes for their 3 wives and 10 children, and a stipend. Citizens get the shaft.

    So that people can come here illegally, if a woman, get pregnant, drop anchor baby – using the ER and running up a huge bill citizens will have to pay, they don’t have to buy car insurance, or pay taxes, and if caught they are released and told to show up while citizens are jailed if they can’t make bail, and their lives can be ruined even if they could – There was not Ferguson MO where illegals were treated like blacks.

    For what? So the billionaire banksters can place huge bets, and when they blow up their banks and the economy they can be bailed instead of jailed and pay themselves bonuses? While the good people who are like my late Father who did nothing wrong, didn’t take risks, lost their house, their family, their health, their savings, and after big pharma addicted them, their lives to an opioid overdose – or is it suicide from hopelessness?

    So that the high tech jewel which was the silicon valley of the 1920’s where he grew up – Detroit – would just decay and the crown jewels like Grand Central Station can be left to decay along with many other old landmarks – unlike the Buddahs the Taliban dynamited – these are left neglected and unprotected. Why did Detroit become bankrupt? Because no one would be politically incorrect and simply speak plain truth because any accusation even of blatant cronyism or incompetence was met with a storm of shouts of “RACIST!” – and that was before Twitter, Doxxing, and the alt-right.

    So that our longest and apparently never-ending war (which Trump doesn’t seem to be winning either) to “nation build” with Afghani bricks, and the Chaos that was Iraq, and many more undeclared wars like Congo and Yemen can just go on, and on, and on, where only Lockheed and whatever Blackwater calls itself today can get rich. WW1 caused a general to write “War is a Racket”. It only got worse. Like the leaked memo where treating disease is better for profits than a cure, containing the enemy is better for profits than winning.

    So that Gays can get married and force Christians to cater their weddings, that 60 million babies can be slaughtered in the Abortion Holocaust (I can show no outrage over the tiny incident long before I was born in Germany BECAUSE no one seems to care about the wholesale slaughter of innocents for the last generation). So that pornography can be shown on tv, mainstream theaters, and livestreamed, with lots of profanity and vulgarity where they claim copyright so it can’t even be edited out (see VidAngel).

    Is this what my Father shed his blood for? Is this what so many gave their lives for? If so, they didn’t even die for nothing, they died for the global elite enemy, yes they were deceived, but it would have been better and more honest to dispense with the pretense of fighting evil and just acquiesce to our slave masters.

    I think if my Father and the rest of the Greatest generation came back, they would have concluded they should have just let the Nazis win as it would not be as evil – if only because the evils would be obvious instead of subtle or censored – as what everyone not only tolerates today, but you are deplatformed, hounded out of your job, SWATted, doxxed or worse if you raise your voice against it – what first amedment?

    • Paul

      Don’t hold back, how do you really feel?

  • Ray

    They did it for weekend retreats in the mountains, at the lakes, at the ocean shores, for Ford, for Chevy, for baseball, basketball, football. They did it for supporting their families, for college, for jobs waiting for them. They did it for their churches, for Sears, for McDonalds, for whatever. They did it for America.

  • Ray

    No greater love, Jesus said. (see John 15:13)

  • If “Actually, the day was officially set aside as a day to remember those who have perished in the nation’s wars. “, then what is Veteran’s Day for?

    I give special attention to the relatives who died in war- and the veterans who died decades after the war was over. I also place flowers at the graves of other relatives who have died.

    We actually have a family tradition that starts Sunday after Mass, we travel 300 miles to visit two cemeteries far from home. Then on Monday, we go to five cemeteries., Not all the graves we visit were veterans, but all are loved ones we hope to see again in Heaven.

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