In Memoriam

Memorial Day, like too many other American holidays, gets diluted by the 3-day weekend, retail-sale-athon industrial complex.  Most readers of this blog have lost comrades in service to our nation, so perhaps we’re a bit more likely to take a moment to reflect on service, community, and the ultimate sacrifice that so many have made for our way of life. Yet even the military and veteran communities get pulled away from what’s truly important towards ideas that others find urgent.

What’s Important?

This is a personal finance blog, but at the end of the day, personal finance is about harnessing our resources to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s about having choices today and in the future. It’s about providing better for the next generation than was provided to you.

Despite what the outrage-industrial-complex formed by partisan media, big-dollar political parties, and companies hoping to profit by advertising to those glued to the tube would have us thinking, we live in amazing and still wildly imperfect times in America.

We have greater access to information, knowledge, health, wealth, and personal freedom than any other generation in history. We can be bombarded with information to the contrary, but that doesn’t make it true. We have been given the challenge to continuously form a more perfect union. If we do anything on Memorial Day, perhaps it should be to rededicate ourselves to perfecting that Union.

What Would More Perfect Look Like?

If we could ask those who gave their life fighting to preserve and spread democracy what they were proud of dying for, what might they say?

Family would probably top the list. None of us exist without family. Nurturing our families helps perfect our Union.

Freedom would also be on the podium. Freedom is an interesting concept. Free will—the option chose right and wrong is part of freedom. Freedom from harm or threats should be a non-negotiable freedom. Freedom to choose representatives or even a form of government (vs. having representatives choose voters or having autocrats impose a government) helps perfect the Union.  Freedom to ignore bad ideas or advocate for good ideas perfects the Union.  Freedom to practice a faith tradition and freedom from faith traditions perfect the Union.  Freedom is a great power, but with it comes the responsibility to use it well.  We should use our freedom to perfect our Union, not divide it.

Comrades in arms motivate us to serve and lay down our lives if called upon. Our friends are our communities. Our communities emerge from our choices to accept and embrace different thinking, different backgrounds, and different choices while being civil to one another. Civility perfects our Union.

Values cause us to take up the flag. Our values are very personal, but military service requires us to dedicate ourselves to our service’s core values during our time in uniform. While not every service member faithfully upholds values such as integrity, servant leadership, sacrifice, and dedication to excellence, most do. We are incredibly lucky to have experienced a community of service members willing to set aside personal ambitions to live out values that support a greater good. Adhering to values perfects our Union.

Character steadies us in the face of danger. Too much of the rot in our politicians today stems from our failure as voters to demand persons of character in positions of leadership. Our military services do not tolerate malignant character. We cannot perfect our Union if we tolerate poor character among those entrusted with power.

Cleared to Rejoin

If we’re to celebrate or at least reflect on Memorial Day, perhaps the best way we can do so is to remember the ideas and values that so many of our loved ones have died protecting. The work of perfecting this nation in their memory will never be done, but we cannot honor their sacrifice by drifting from the values, sacrifice, responsibilities, and character that this nation was founded on.

Fight’s On!

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