Our View: Fallen heroes underwrite our freedom

OUR VIEW MEMORIAL DAY

May 26, 2013 

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We are happy we live in a country where we can pause and enjoy a three-or-four-day Memorial Day transition from spring and school to a summer sabbatical.

Yet it is good to take time to consider the meaning behind this day beyond the picnics, day trips, street parties and sports events that attach to it.

Almost every faith practiced in the United States has a ritual moment meant to prompt reflection. To our way of thinking, the ritual of Memorial Day is the recognition of a sacrifice - the ultimate sacrifice - of the men and women who gave their lives so we can enjoy ours. Their work and offering has underwritten more than 86,500 days of freedom since July 4, 1776.

There is not a line or word in our Constitution that demands our reflection. Outside of military protocol and codification by politicians, there are no laws commanding it. Yes, it is an official day and holiday for most of us. But it is left to us to make this free-will expression on our own time or in our own way.

Conveniently and thankfully, our community and military leaders and patriots arrange opportunities to express our gratitude for our fallen. The parades, speeches and laying of flowers on soldiers' graves date back to the days after the Civil War.

It is our guess that the sponsors of Memorial Day celebrations - and we are referring to those who served and especially those who have perished - would want us to enjoy them with every ounce of fervor. We do not doubt that Idaho's most recent example of this sacrifice, U.S. Army Spc. Thomas Paige Murach, a 22-year-old son of Meridian killed in Afghanistan earlier this month, would wholeheartedly endorse every moment of our Memorial Day observance, whether it lasted five minutes or five days.

From what his family has had to say about their beloved son and brother, he was a classic freedom-loving, God-fearing American who had a burden for the people in Afghanistan because he wanted for them what we enjoy: freedom as a nation and freedom to choose our own destiny.

Most of us will never be called to the dangerous mission that Tom Murach was summoned to and gave his life for just a fortnight ago. But we can gather around the graves of this soldier and 68 other Idahoans who have given their lives during the wars since 9/11.

Specialist Murach was laid to rest on Monday at Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise. He leaves behind a family navigating a mountain of grief.

Our moment of reflection and our robust celebration of Memorial Day will remind all families of these fallen warriors that they did not die in vain, and that the cost of freedom financed the joy of this weekend.

"Our View" is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman's editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, editorial@idahostatesman.com.

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