Memorial Day reflection, that “Our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom”

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One stone wall of the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC is home to a quote for which we have General George Marshall to be thankful.

“We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.”

On the occasion of yesterday’s Memorial Day, 31 May 2010, I had the good fortune to spend a moment contemplating this wall on my visit there.

No single person can account for the actions of an entire nation — and the governments, agencies, organizations, corporations, and entities thereof — but as individuals we must be accountable for our own deeds and those of the organizations we touch.

Just as so many that have gone before us have died for our country, so too must each of us now live for our country, for we are capable of no greater honor to those passed than to preserve that for which they bled, no greater dishonor than to wrap ourselves in the cloak of temporal prosperity and carry on as if no further sacrifice would be asked.

I ask, therefore, in the shadow of yesterday’s Memorial Day, when life was invigorated by good weather and good friends: Are you living for your country, or for yourself; For the world around you, or the pleasures in your immediate view; For patriotism, or for politics; To serve others, or to serve yourself; So that our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom, or as a symbol of something else?

This is my Memorial Day wish — reflection for yourself, prosperity for you to share, and the honor of service so as to leave our neighborhoods, communities, nation, and world better tomorrow than when we enjoyed them yesterday.

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