Monday, May 25, 2015

The last full measure of devotion

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. It was first celebrated in 1868 as an occasion for decorating the graves of Union soldiers with flowers. Over time, the competing Union and Confederate ceremonies merged into the modern Memorial Day. Today is when we honor men who died in battle. Veterans Day is when we celebrate all veterans, living or dead, who served in peacetime or wartime. For example, neither of my grandfathers died in battle for their country. They made the other poor dumb bastards die for their country. My paternal grandfather enlisted in the Army when the United States entered World War II, served for the duration, then mustered out at war's end. My maternal grandfather enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1940 and went on to serve through World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, retiring in 1968.


  1. To be honest, a lot of the modern military celebrations make me a bit uncomfortable. The retreating but still pervasive spirit of the Nationalism mentioned by Belloc in "Survivals and New Arrivals" results in far too much equating veterans with martyrs even by folks who should know better (with the bonus this year of including in at least one homily a parallel between Holy Spirit and spirit of "liberty," due to Memorial Day's unfortunate proximity to Pentecost). It also seems to accentuate the degree to which modern society accords military folks (of which, for what it's worth, I am one, though admittedly not a very good one) the same respect and even reverence that used to be paid to monks and priests.

    Not that I've anything against military holidays in principle, mind you. I mostly just wish that the Church would stop letting the world dictate her calendar and catering to the worship of worldly pieties, and the military holidays, at least at present and in this country, bring the problem into sharp relief, in a way really only rivaled by Mother's Day.

    1. I see in your blogger profile that you're a Catholic convert. I too was convinced by apologetics and argument.