John Y. Brown, III: Memorial Day

A Memorial Day reflection

Memorial Day is a special time we set aside each year to thank those men and women of our military who fought and died so we could have freedom and a better way of life.

The freedom and “better way of life” these brave and dedicated Americans fought to protect and preserve for each of us living today provide the political, social and economic structure—the preconditions, if you will— for our way of life. They don’t provide “happiness” but rather ensure that we have the life and liberty to pursue happiness.

And that is a lot. In fact, it’s one hell of a gift.

Thank you for that…and thanks to the families who lost their loved ones so we can live a richer life today.

And so today we take a quiet and reverent moment to show our appreciation. But perhaps more important than the day we offer in recognition for those who died for our country’s way of life, is what we do the remaining 364 days of each year.

Are we just in possession of the pre-conditions for a free and full and happy life? Or are we fulfilling that uniquely American opportunity we’ve each been given by how we live our lives each day the remainder of the year?

To truly honor those we seek to recognize today, I believe, is to do more than just possess the freedoms they secured for us. It is to live more fully in our daily lives “because” of these freedoms.

We can still take Memorial Day each year to say thank you for the opportunity to be free and pursue happiness. But the way we live our lives –and extent to which we fulfill our individual American dream—will be our greatest gift back to those soldiers who sacrificed so much so we could be play our part in fulfilling the promise of the American dream.


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