Freedom from what?
I have a number of ancestors who served in various wars; one ancestral second cousin was apparently married to Benedict Arnold or something; another great-great-great grandfather or so was at Antietam; both grandfathers served in WWII; and from a passing reference in a letter to my grandmother, one grandfather’s father may have served in WWI.
In spite of this, I’m not “patriotic” in that I’m not overly sentimental about the United States in general or the military in particular. Part of it is that after WWII, modern warfare seems less “good-vs.-evil” and more “let’s fight for who gets to be in control” (never mind that terror tactics a la 9/11 are as bad if not worse than the institutionalized evil of Nazi Germany).
I digress. All this to say, in general, Memorial Day to me is what it is to most Americans these days: a day off work and the unofficial start of summer. Sure, Facebook will be full of those posts like, “Remember the people who fought and died for your freedom!” But how many of us just kind of gloss over or pay them lip service?
Which is why, to counter this in my own heart, I’m listing off some of the things I’m grateful to be free from:
- A Nazi-controlled Europe. Seriously, institutionalized evil. There were so many German engineers who designed the death camps, who executed Jews and other persecuted people because they acknowledged they were putting their morals aside just to follow orders. Institutionalized evil still exists, but it’s in pockets, not an entire country or continent.
- Religious persecution. I know I take this for granted. But there have been woefully few times in world history where a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, and an atheist could walk into a bar and result in a bad joke or peaceful debate instead of a knife fight or the Inquisition. And there are still plenty of places in the world where such freedom doesn’t exist.
- Taxation without representation. I don’t exercise my right to vote as frequently as I should (generally the major elections), but I have it and if a law doesn’t go my way, it’s because it was the will of the people who voted. I may not have liked it, but maybe two neighbors did.
Those are just a few things I’m grateful for, and I’m thankful for my grandparents and ancestors who fought so I could enjoy a life of comparative freedom and safety. What about you?