Originally Published: June 2, 2000 7 p.m.
This has been the weekend of big sales, picnics, barbecues and family trips.
That's what happens to people who grow up in a generation that hasn't known a war. The holiday of rememberance loses its meaning.
People who know war will show up for the ceremonies. But they are relatively few, compared to those who think Memorial Day is a fun day off from work.
War has two positive effects.
First, almost everyone who has been through a war has a clear sense of purpose in life and a clear understanding of what's important. They don't brook whining, trivia or wasted time. People who have come close to losing their own lives and have had to watch many friends and enemies lose theirs gain a much sharper sense of what life is about.
Second, war brings out in people all the things we used to value in our country – courage, loyalty to our country and our comrades, a sense of sacrifice and an allegiance to the ideals that made our country great.
It takes only one quick look at the White House or Congress to see that sustained peace certainly doesn't have those effects on our elected leaders or on us.
Most of our leaders today are strangers to courage, a sense of purpose or the truth. And we, as a people, have become fat, dumb and happy – at least sufficiently so that in most elections apathy is the strongest political force.
Let's hope that amid all the merriment, a few of us remember and respect what those who knew war did for us and not profane their sacrifice by squandering what they fought so hard to win.
Let's hope it doesn't take the nation going to war again to rediscover what so many seem to have lost in the years of sustained peace that have come at such great cost.