I woke up Monday morning curious to see how various newspapers would represent Memorial Day.
I scanned the usual suspects – the New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Examiner, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN.
Amidst headlines of the debt crisis in Washington, the final episode of “Succession,” Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid,” and a dire warning about a “little known virus you’ve likely never heard of” (courtesy of CNN) I found few stories concerning those who have made the ultimate sacrifice – life.
I had to dig for most of them. Only one, Fox News, made a story of remembrance the top headline.
In typical style, the New York Times had to run a piece that prodded the reader’s proclivity toward division on what should be one of the most unifying days of the year, asking the pressing question of who we should honor on Memorial Day.
In no way do I dismiss any of the tragedies of the collateral damage of combat. War is brutal and horrific. But for once, I’d like to not be bombarded with messages that scream “but what about fill-in-the blank?!?” insisting that I am leaving out a certain category of forgotten victims in my prayers for all who have been affected by the devastation of warfare.
Because you can be sure as the sun rises, three days from now I am going to be forced to honor anyone that chooses a different sexual identity other than the traditional man-woman partnership for an entire month.
My Google search engine will be filled with rainbows and I will have to endure Pride-themed workouts in every fitness center or app I open. There will be headlines about Target, parades, and constant festivities, not for something we all enjoy, like freedom, but rather an identity that others insist everyone not only acknowledge but celebrate.
What Is Going on?
I don’t have much hope for a country that finds more pride in personal identity than collective truth.
Abraham Lincoln once claimed, “Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”
Given this morning’s coverage, I find this to be sadly true.
Our country’s affections seem to be grossly misplaced.
For a long time, mine were as well. I felt more compassion for abstractions like identity groups than I did for those who worked hard or fought for the life I enjoy today. I rallied to support unknown allies, yet often forgot those closest to me who afforded me the privilege of living in a country that enjoys some of the greatest comforts and conveniences of any civilization prior.
I revered those who were simply not worthy of my reverence. Those who quickly dismissed me when I no longer agreed with them or needed their approval or attention.
It wasn’t a pleasant life. I was fragile. I got upset not over attacks or insults made on my character, but mere challenges to what I now understand as my opinion, but what I then cried was “my truth.”
There was no effervescent gratitude. Only pain and suffering, all of my own making.
This is the narcissism of the 21st century that has quickly altered our entire culture. A culture that places self above all others.
I don’t think I need to provide a lot of examples here to prove this is true. Simply look at any recent headline about some identity group vying for attention by claiming victimhood. Or spend a week at a university.
Transcending Victimhood Through Sacrifice
This victim culture misplaces our affections from the transcendent to the infinitesimally small and places our country in peril.
America was supposed to be about the ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice-given self-interest rightly understood as expressed by Alexis deTocuqeville. This notion, which combines the right of association with the virtue to do what is right, was how Americans were to combat individualism, according to deTocqueville.
Our veterans understood this implicitly.
But they did believe in something bigger than them, a notion that America and the promises it held, even if it at times failed to live up to those promises, were worth fighting and dying for.
Sacrifice – the willingness to give up something important for something more important – is not a term well understood these days or even seen for the virtue it is. It is something I am relearning and finding great joy in.
I saw a quote this morning that read, “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”
For those that were brave enough to make the ultimate sacrifice, thank you. May this country raise braver citizens in the years to come in your honor.
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor for 19FortyFive.com. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review.