This will probably become my perennial Memorial Day post. It’s not the kind of thing that I’ll have a ton to add to, it’s just something we all need to do on the regular.
The book I think of most for Memorial Day is FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, by James Bradley. The review is above. It’s these books that will help us understand what it costs to create a nation and protect it from tyranny.
To me, that’s what Memorial Day is. Remembering the country we have, and what we enjoy in it, and those who died to give us that ability to enjoy it. They don’t get to have it. They just paid for it. We’re living on their work.
I touched on the idea of the price of a nation in HOWLING WILDERNESS, during a draft of the first chapter. This might not make it into the final version but that’s fine. The sentiment is there.
“Fifty years,” Lady Vandervoort said, her voice lowering just a touch, her eyes going distant. “None of it happened here. It wasn’t on Katahdin, it wasn’t in Maine. We trained in Virginia. Built mimics in the Ohio. Crossed Pennsylvania. Fell into a trap in New York. Finished the fight in New Jersey. This place…this place had nothing to do with it. But we are free here, because of what was done there. Fifty years I’ve carried the memories of that day, and all the hard days before it. Now here we are…finding this uniquely Merykan way to celebrate what we have.
“This? This is the anomaly. Life isn’t like this. Hasn’t been like this for most people in most places for most of the time we’ve walked the earth. Life is war and chaos and brutality and subjugation, speckled with tiny moments of peace along the way. This is peacetime. Enjoy it for what it is. Remember what it cost to get you all here. Have fun bombing around in the woods and the swamps, I guess, but know that you hold a diamond in your hand. It isn’t yours, it’s just yours to take care of. People died to find it, to pull it out of the ground and cut it and shine it up so you can look at it and see how pretty it is.
“Make sure it stays that way. One of you little bastards is going to win this thing and get a Council appointment. The diamond isn’t yours to spend. It’s yours to preserve. Think about that for the next two thousand miles.” She chuckled, lost in some distant memory. Then she sighed. “See you at the other end of this. Good luck.”
The cultured reader will know who Lady Vandervoort is from the original Engines of Liberty trilogy. If you don’t know, I won’t spoil the surprise.
Anyway. Celebrate well, and use this day for what it really means.