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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

Lest We Forget

“A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”

President Abraham Lincoln

Memorial Day affords us the opportunity to honor our heroes. Unlike Hammonton, many communities have forgone Memorial Day parades, risking facing the very threat President Lincoln warned the country of long ago. And those among us who substitute a day of solemn remembrance and gratitude with barbeques and binging, risk fertilizing a culture of complacency and irreverence towards the unfathomable price of our freedom.

Memorial Day, a solemn occasion dedicated to honoring the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives in service to our nation, is increasingly at risk of being devalued. As the years go by, there is a growing tendency to see this day merely as a long weekend, a chance to kick off the summer with barbecues and sales. This shift in perception is dangerous as it undermines the core purpose of Memorial Day: to remember and honor the fallen heroes who have secured the freedoms we enjoy today.

The erosion of the true meaning of Memorial Day reflects a broader issue in our society—a diminishing sense of patriotism and a lack of understanding of our nation’s history. Commemorative events such as parades play a crucial role in countering this trend. They serve as powerful reminders of the sacrifices made by previous generations and provide a tangible connection to the past. Through parades, we create a space for collective remembrance, allowing communities to come together to honor those who have given their lives for their country.

Moreover, these events are vital for instilling a sense of patriotism in younger generations. When children and young adults participate in or attend Memorial Day parades, they witness firsthand the respect and reverence given to our fallen soldiers. They learn about the values of service, sacrifice, and national pride. This helps to foster a deeper appreciation for the liberties and opportunities they enjoy, nurturing a sense of duty to uphold and protect these values.

Parades and other commemorative events also provide a platform for veterans and active service members to share their stories and experiences. These personal narratives are instrumental in bridging the gap between military and civilian life, helping the broader public understand the realities of service and the profound cost of freedom. By hearing directly from those who have served, we ensure that their sacrifices are not forgotten and that the lessons of the past are carried forward.

So go ahead and crack open an ice-cold root beer. Throw those burgers on the grill. Binge read the last two months of The Hammonton Gazette, (shameless self-promotional plug for your hometown newspaper). But take time for remembrance of all those who came before us and their sacrifices that have given us the freedom to enjoy the day as we please.

Yes, Memorial Day has passed, but the spirit of gratitude is the living breathing essence of the American people. We hope you turned out to honor our veterans and their fallen brothers and sisters. But if you did not or could not, you can always show appreciation throughout the year. Just as the spirit of Christmas is not limited to one day a year, so then the spirit of Memorial Day is not limited to one day either. See a vet—thank a vet!

Hammonton is a beacon of patriotism in the midst of a nation seemly set on forgetting its heroes. Freedom dies in the darkness cast from a heart void of gratefulness. Here’s to the community that continues to be a light.


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