ELAINE HARRIS SPEARMAN COMMENTARY: Marking Memorial Day in perilous times

Elaine Harris Spearman
·4 min read

We in America are about to see another day for honoring servicemen and women who have died in action. That day traditionally was May 30; it’s now commemorated on the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day is fondly referred to by some as “Decoration Day.” They are one and the same.

By contrast, Veterans Day is a holiday that is celebrated on Nov. 11 in the United States. It formerly was called Armistice Day because it commemorates the armistice that ended World War I.

As a refresher, armistice is defined as “temporary cessation or suspension of hostilities by mutual consent.” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1973.) The holiday has been called Veterans Day since 1954.

Although Memorial Day honors our dead servicemen and women, we take the opportunity to recognize others who have paid the ultimate price for scores of reasons that are personal to each person who chooses to remember those who had an impact on their lives.

One thing that appears to be unique to the South is old and young, Black and white take the time to thank veterans for their service. They do not wait until the prescribed day. It is a heartfelt experience when a young child waits beside a veteran in a wheelchair to thank him for his service.

I have noticed that those who thank veterans for their service also thank their wives and companions. The aftermath of service, and living, can be unforgiving.

While we honor our American fallen, those who are yet alive are given recognition when they can respond in kind, “You’re welcome.”

As we sadly reflect upon the significance of the day, we must remember that it is ultimately about preserving American democracy whether at home or abroad.

We cannot forget the million people who have died here from COVID-19. We must acknowledge that the battle is still raging in the midst of lies, more sickness and more deaths.

Many of the deaths were preventable. Sickness from the virus does not have to result in death. Vaccines should not be demonized and shunned as some are urging.

Several of the wars America has found itself engaged in are no different, in my opinion, than the looming threat involving Ukraine. Millions of people are either dead or seeking refuge. People need to think about where we would be with a leader who would dare praise Russian invaders as they kill an innocent Ukranian population.

The United States has taken the position that Ukraine is a member state of the United Nations whose charter bans “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

Without tempered, non-vindictive leadership. parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles could find their relatives headed to foreign soil. We do not wish to cast an eye toward an eventuality wherein our Memorial Day honoring grows greater and greater.

We are living in perilous times. As we remember our war dead, we must take cognizance of the living. Many of these young people have the possibility of becoming a member of the war dead. The citizens of the United States must pay attention to whom they elect to office.

Each of us cannot cast a vote regarding national and international decisions. Those whom we elect have that decision-making power.

As we frightfully look at what is happening worldwide, we cannot become numb to the influence that elected officials have on our governance. So many have personal interpretations of the Constitution and the Bible.

Most are based upon political gurus’ advice on what it takes to win an election, no matter what state. Vladimir Putin, who shares a mutual “admiration society” with the former disgraced president, also shares a penchant for religious interpretations.

In a Washington Post opinion piece, Putin is quoted as describing the bloody assault on Ukraine as “salvation for Ukraine,” and spoke of a religious duty “to relieve these people of suffering.” Astonishingly, he quoted the Bible to justify his belief.

This while his army bombed shopping malls, maternity hospitals, opera houses and people’s homes. According to the article, this may be a twisted version of the Bible — this is evidently what he believes.

As we remember our dead this Memorial Day, let us be reminded that the numbers can be multiplied ten-fold if voters do not pay attention to whom they elect to office.

Elaine Harris Spearman, Esq., a Gadsden native, is an attorney and is the retired legal advisor to the comptroller of the City of St. Louis. The opinions reflected are her own.

This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Elaine Harris Spearman looks at Memorial Day