Let’s be honest with each other. The only thing any of us are likely to remember on Memorial Day is where the best mattress sales are happening. And we’ll count ourselves lucky if we remember to take potato salad to neighbor’s cookout. Otherwise, the last weekend in May is just three days of self-indulgent merrymaking.

It is supposed to be something more.

Since the late 1860s, we have set aside a day of national remembrance. Remember what? Exactly.

To justify our national forgetfulness, we smugly – and, yes, correctly – assert that our rights to life, liberty, and property are endowed by God. Yet we gloss past the stark reality that securing those rights has fallen to men and women willing to battle enemy forces intent on destroying the glorious American experiment in self-governance.

We have lived in the liberty their ultimate sacrifice made possible. We have slept easily at night under the protection of men and women who stand willing to give their up lives for us.

Frankly, remembering those sacrifices is a kind of a buzz-kill. How are we supposed to enjoy a party with such somber thoughts running through our heads? It’s easier to forget.

This callous approach to Memorial Day is just another symptom of our national disregard for the daily work of self-governance in preserving liberty. The last couple of years have shown how easily too many of our countrymen will sacrifice their rights for the thinnest veneer of “protection” promised by bureaucrats and experts.

It is undoubtedly easier to enjoy a beer and burger in the backyard than to reflect on the sacrifices made on our behalf – often before we were ever born, by men who would only be known as “the uncle who died in the war.”

Yet reflect, dwell, and consider we must. If we are to give up our liberties and adorn our ankles with the soft chains of tyranny, what was the point of their sacrifice? Did they die for a lost cause, or to give us the opportunity to be better, to be more?

The best way to ensure their sacrifices have meaning is to keep daily fighting for our republic. The greatest memorial to those honored dead is to ensure self-governance continues strongly into the next generation.

But let us also take a moment from the cookouts, a break from the sale-shopping, to remember those who laid down their lives for us.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.

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