“It is for you to try to be like them.”
Pericles’ Funeral Oration
I have to admit a problem that I’ve had with Memorial Day. I’ve often let my thoughts move too easily to the fact that some fallen warriors are not the best examples of what we want to remember. I’ve found myself thinking: were they all truly patriotic? Were they really brave, and willing to die? Or perhaps, did they die in a conflict where American soldiers should not have been there anyway?
And I am ashamed. They deserve more. From me.
The simple fact of their death should be enough. More than enough. Of course some who have fallen in the line of duty stand out as especially exemplary; and it is fitting that their stories are told and remembered in a special way. But a fundamental premise of Memorial Day is that all who have fallen are worthy to be honored. And perhaps above all, simply worthy to be remembered, with real gratitude.
They have died in the service of their country, which is my country. They have thus died for me. For me. So regardless of anything else, I resolve to remember them, to honor them, and to pray for them, and theirs. And even somehow to try to be like them.
Pericles (495-429 B.C.), a great general, statesman, and orator, ruled Athens during its Golden Age. Several of his speeches are recorded by Thucydides (460-395 B.C.) in his History of the Peloponnesian War. One of the most famous is the funeral oration for fallen Athenian soldiers.
“In all manual work we find the primal phenomenon of culture that is human but close to nature.” “The sphere in which we live is becoming more and more artificial, less and less human,” Romano Guardini, Letters from Lake Como We have lost something today, but we can...
“Goodbye Aeneas. Cherish our love in the son it gave us.” Virgil, The Aeneid This stunningly powerful goodbye between spouses says so much. A son, it says, was ‘given’ to a couple by the love they bore one another. Love between spouses is already itself a gift. That...
“And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays. The more the pity that some honest neighbors will not make them friends.” Shakespeare (Bottom, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream) Lovers can be notoriously irrational. But is true love...
Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. LifeCraft springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.