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[p. 23]

Memorial Day address—broadcasted.1

A nation's Memorial Day.

We are recognizing Memorial Day this year as being more significant than ever before. It is different from the other national holidays. No noise of guns and exciting fireworks, no demand for a safe and sane Memorial Day, but the emphasis is on reverence, honor and respect. The men and boys of the sixties have been honored through all the years on this day. And in recent years tens of thousands of new dead have been added to the lists, making the day more meaningful than ever.

We have new reasons for observing Memorial Day. The old veterans, to whom the day has always meant so much, have been passing away rapidly. The day was being given over increasingly to sports and diversions. But the new sacrifices on the fields of battle for the country have brought our people to a rededication of the day. No longer do we leave the loving task to the brave survivors of the Civil War. We still follow the Grand Army in the work of decorating the graves of our dead. But we see it now as a common privilege. This present generation with honor and reverence remembers those who have perished honorably for the sake of America.

The day with its duties is essentially patriotic. A higher appreciation of country must follow a fitting remembrance of the price paid in blood. Such a remembrance is vital for us who remain to carry on. The heart of the nation is softened, and sympathy and unselfishness are promoted. In such a spirit we can be thoughtful in our observance. We cannot think of it as a day of revelry and frolic in those thousands of homes where [p. 24] there are vacant places. Nor can we believe that those who survived the tempests of battle will be anxious for mere pleasure on that day. It is a Holy Day, when we keep green the memory of those ‘whose tents on fame's eternal camping ground are spread,’ when we try to get into fellowship with the spirit that made those men and women heroes and patriots. Our civil liberty will never be safe if we forget them.

Memorial Day has a forward look. We cannot consider those who stood and fought victoriously without considering their successors through the years. The immortal Gettysburg speech voices this thought. There is an unfinished work, to which we must dedicate ourselves, and ‘from these honored dead we must take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.’ That is the spirit in which we should observe Memorial Day. Proud as we are of our huge populations, our increasing wealth, our magnificent cities, our intellectual and scientific achievements, we must remember that if the nation is not bound together with a sincere piety she will perish. Memorial Day appeals to us for the development of all that is pure and good.

On Tuesday next we are challenged to prove ourselves as patriots who are worthy of the huge sacrifices made. We venture to say that the dead would, if they could, tell us that they died for a great cause. They did not die that we might permit liberty to degenerate into license, that we might indulge in class hatred, racial hatred, and forget the surging passion for American unity which impelled them to meet death. They did not die that we might live in riotous extravagance and mad pleasure, neglectful of the multitudes in sorrow and want at our doors. They did not die that we might develop laziness in our industries, neglect of worship, irreverence for the flag, and various red orgies of disloyalty. If on Memorial Day we stand reverently before the tomb of him who died at Saratoga or St. Mihiel, or [p. 25] Gettysburg or in the Argonne, and in humility think of the sacrifice and ask why it was made, the answer will write itself on our hearts. We want to commemorate the day, so that its message of present duty, its call to homage, its promise of immortality, may lead us into a higher type of patriotism for the sake of God and country.

1 Substance of address by Maurice Luke Bullock, minister of Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, West Medford, broadcasted from the Amrad Station Wgi of the American radio and Research corporation, Medford Hillside, Mass., Sunday evening, may 28, 1922.

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