Can America’s Values Endure?

May 31, 2010

Once again, as in past years, tradition and a spirit of patriotism will be on display as the Village of Lake Bluff, IL, bordering Lake Michigan and located a few miles south of Great Lakes Naval Base, holds a Memorial Day Ceremony on its Village Green.

It is fitting that Lake Bluffers should salute all who gave their lives in past wars and honor those who have volunteered to put themselves in harm’s way in the name of freedom, as its history — and the history of  Memorial Day — dates back to the time of the Civil War when Union and Confederate soldiers would visit the graves of their relatives and decorate them with flowers.
During the First World War, Lake Bluff was proclaimed the “most patriotic small town in America” for the efforts of its citizens in supporting the Red Cross and purchasing an ambulance to send to France.
Although now a full-fledged Chicago suburb with a population of 6,000 plus, Lake Bluff has never relinquished its small-town, New England flavor.  A few hundred of its citizens routinely gather at the Gazebo on Lake Bluff’s Village Green every year to celebrate Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Memorial Day 2010 will be no different.  Perhaps even more Lake Bluffers will gather on its Village Green as the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made residents even more acutely aware of the debt we owe our military men and women.  As in past years those gathered will be welcomed by Rudy Iberle, Commander of Lake Bluff American Legion Post 510.
Once again I’ll  feel a sense of pride when the National Anthem is performed by the Lake Forest High School Band, followed by the Flag Raising by members of Lake Bluff Scout Troop 42.  Emotional times for me will be the reciting of the “Gettysburg Address” by a LB Middle School student and the reading of the names of Lake Bluff’s fallen heroes.
A much anticipated time for all will be the “Salute to Fallen Comrades” performed by the Marine Air Control Group 48 Firing Detail out of Great Lakes, whose members, splendid in their dress uniforms, will stand at attention throughout the ceremony until time to perform their ceremonial gun salute.  Lake Bluff is  fortunate to have as Guest Speaker, Army Colonel Larry Larimer, Director of the Office of Strategic Planning at the Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEP) for all the military services in the United States.
Despite my own love of country, I am worried about America’s youth.  History is many times lost on young people.  Today’s children often lose sight that the U.S. is the place people all over the world turn to for help when there is a catastrophe, earthquake, terrible storm, flood, etc.
Too many young people don’t respect their country.  Political correctness seems to have invaded the teaching profession and is also the rhetoric of political leaders.  This political correctness down plays America’s greatness:  that she is nothing special and that America has no right to set itself above other countries in the world either as a leader of or as a place where values still count.  Too often young people are told that America is an evil country and that its past actions should be ridiculed instead of revered.
Although today’s military is an all-volunteer force, will the next generation of young people be willing to follow in the footsteps of the youth that went before them when duty calls to defend America?  Since Congress in 1967 moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May from May 30th, creating a three-day weekend,  Memorial Day too often becomes a three-day getaway weekend that marks the beginning of summer.
On this Memorial Day and throughout the year, may parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and all who work with youth, strive to educate young people.  They must be taught that freedom is not free and how in the past our American military has liberated more people from tyranny and slavery than any other force throughout history.
The youth of today, and those who follow, represent the future of America.  They must be willing to walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before them to defend their country, so one day they too can be remembered at  Memorial Day celebrations, proud that they were not hesitant to answer the call to protect those freedoms too many Americans take for granted.
May we all pray that future generations of Americans will continue to answer the call to serve their country,  just as the veterans we will be honoring on this Memorial Day 2010 all over America.   Should those entrusted to protect America no longer believe this nation, its values, or its long-held freedoms are worth protecting and fighting for, the America envisioned by our Fore Fathers will be relegated to the dist bin of history and the blood shed over many years to protect the American way of life will have been in vain.

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