It used to be said that the United States had a civil religion. If this is still so, it is a religion lightly practiced. I doubt that more than a fraction of the people enjoying this Monday off will give thought to those who died in their country's service.
It is ironic, perhaps, that those who died defending our Republic were so successful in their intention that Americans today feel safe enough to forget about them. However that may be, forgetfulness is perilous.
Liberty is not something abstract. It is as real as money, as tangible as a left tackle. It consists of courts, a bicameral Congress, and a President and his administration, and fifty state governments. Its muscle is the armed might of the Republic. Without military power, American liberty would not exist.
The military power of our Republic has always depended on the willingness of citizens to take arms in its defense. That we have done so freely and frequently is a major source of our power. It is proper that we should remember those who sacrificed their lives.
I had the great and undeserved fortune of being born in the gentler half of the twentieth century. I owe that good fortune to my Uncle Bill, who was killed on Okinawa by a sniper's bullet, and countless others like him. On this beautiful day, let us enjoy our barbeque. Let us also praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us.