In big ways and small, left and right seem to be drifting further apart.
“One hundred and fifty-five years ago, retired Union General James Garfield spoke here at Arlington, marking our nation’s first Memorial Day,” began U.S. President Joe Biden in his 2023 annual Memorial Day address.
“Standing amid rows and rows of marble stones, many of his own fallen soldiers among them, he asked, ‘What brought these men here? What high motive led them to…welcome death?’” President Biden reflected. “And he answered his own question. He said, ‘Our nation’s life.’”
“Today, we once again gather in this sacred place, at this solemn hour, to honor fallen heroes, to once again stand amid the rows and rows of marble stones and bear witness to the brave women and men who served and sacrificed for our freedom and for our future; those who died so our nation might live,” Biden told the assembled crowd.
“Every year, as a nation, we undertake this rite of remembrance, for we must never forget the price that was paid to protect our democracy,” he charged. “We must never forget the lives these flags, flowers, and marble markers represent: a mother, a father, a son, a daughter, a sister, a spouse, a friend. An American.”
“Every year, we remember,” said Biden. “And every year, it never gets easier.”
President Biden is perfectly right: Every year, as a nation, we celebrate Memorial Day, and every year it seems harder for the opposing forces of conservatism and progressivism to cohabitate in America.
In many ways, the trend has been happening for years.
“Memorial Day was political from the beginning,” asserted the Washington Post on May 31, 2021.
“Memorial Day is moment to grapple with hard truths about the military,” was the Post’s contribution the previous year, reminding its readers that, “racism has long hurt the armed forces — including during WWII.”
“How America’s First Memorial Day Was Lost to Racist Gaps in History,” wrote Allison Wiltz for Read Cultured in 2022. “The ‘martyrs’ of the racecourse’ whitewashed from our nation’s memory.”