Saturday, June 19, 2021

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From the Editorial Board

Welcome to June! The academic recognitions and prom pictures keep rolling in. Meanwhile, students and parents prepare for summer and look forward to new academic challenges in the fall.

Lessons from the history of Memorial Day

This week we highlight Memorial Day observances from around CRST on Sunday, the traditional Memorial Day. Memorial Day began as Decoration Day after the Civil War. Prior to the Civil War, there had been no need for national cemeteries. After the war, communities began to organize days to decorate graves, say prayers, and gather to remember the fallen. It wasn’t until 1971 that Memorial Day became a federal holiday.

While the holiday was originally used to mark the deaths of Civil War soldiers on both sides of the conflict, it came to hold significance for each war since then. The red poppy became associated with Memorial Day after World War One. The small flowers were the first ones to bloom in the battlefields of France each spring during and after the war.

Before the war, poppies were scarce. Then, in the spring of 1915 after the first year of the war, they were everywhere in Flanders. The reasons are grim and gruesome. The weedy flowers were fertilized by the nitrogen from continual bombing, the lime from shattered buildings, and the decaying remains of men, horses, dogs, and donkeys who died in the trenches. The trenches themselves tore up the earth to allow the seeds to sprout. Farmers in Flanders dig up bones in their fields to this day.

America is currently facing a threat to our democracy more serious than we have known since the Civil War. The failure of Congress to convene an independent commission to examine the attack on the Capital on January 6 means that the root causes of the violent insurrection will go unexamined in the halls of our democracy. Thank goodness the FBI continues to seek, arrest and charge those who took criminal action that day. But the deeper question of if the attackers were supported by those within our government will go unexamined by our representatives at the highest level.

This board feels it is the patriotic duty of every American to call on Congress to convene an independent commission to explore the events of the illegal insurrection on January 6. If you went out to honor a fallen veteran on Memorial Day, then you have a duty to honor those wounded and killed in the defense of our halls of democracy that day. To resist the creation of a commission is to condone the attack and is, in itself, deeply unpatriotic.

A thorough examination of the events leading up to the attack and on the day itself is nothing to fear. The greater thing to fear is the danger posed to the unity of the United States of America by not looking. Truth brings light, healing, conversation, and the resolve to do better. America grows by acknowledging our divisions, like the Civil War, by honoring ugly truths, and by growing into the future even stronger.

We urge everyone to set aside fear in favor of truth, and we urge patriotic members of the Republican party to join their patriotic brethren in Congress on both sides of the aisle and across the nation in calling for a full and honest investigation.

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