Monday, May 30, 2011


I think about this every Memorial Day, but this year – the year that we are also “celebrating” the 150th anniversary of the Civil War – is a good time for a public pondering: what are we really honoring when we acknowledge Memorial Day?

On November 19, 1863 – widely acknowledged as the first observance of what would be called Memorial Day, although it was not declared a national holiday until 1971 – Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in dedicating a cemetery for fallen soldiers. He said:

“That from these honored dead we take increased devotion of that cause which they gave the last full measure of devotion . . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . .”

Yet on this day, we also honor soldiers who, certainly, were not fighting so that others would have “a new birth of freedom.”

Others were, however, and their struggles and sacrifices should be included and honored on this day. They were not necessarily the military veterans of which Lincoln spoke; in fact, military pathways for them were banned or obstacle-laden. And their service – as military soldiers and as civilian Racial Apartheid Freedom Fighters -- was denigrated, overlooked, and for the majority of this country’s existence, relegated to the back pages of its history.

These domestic Freedom Fighters served in the full spirit of Abraham Lincoln’s remarks. Some served publically and some served quietly, but all served under the noses of American laws which supported every defense of American Racial Apartheid. Soldiers in these wars were Afrikan Descendant and they were white, working apart and together, living embodiments of dreams for “a new birth of freedom.”

It is they, above all others, who brought us here today. It is they whom we should be honoring today and every day. It is they, above all, who deserve remembrances and gratitude, in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln’s words and hope for this day.

And yet here we are, another year, and they who deserve it the most continue to be overlooked and just plain ol’ dissed on this day.

So this is my “shout out” to those Warriors and Transformers, with Thanks, and Gratitude, and Appreciation. On this day especially, I acknowledge your sacrifices, which were made beyond measure and reason. You lived up to a vision that America, for all its words, spat upon every day for the majority of its existence. You are whom I think of whenever I read the words: “That from these honored dead we take increased devotion of that cause which they gave the last full measure of devotion . . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . .”

Quite simply, because You Were, I Am, and others have a chance to be . . .

Your examples continue to inspire me, and your Spirit is needed as we are quickly slipping backward to America’s Racial Apartheid roots. But that is another story and should not mar this, the day we remember you.

And you are who I honor on this day, for because of you, I have opportunity to say and pray that we are:

Moving Forward,



  1. Another extremely thoughtful and moving comment, Adar. I can't think of a better example reflecting how far we are from a "post-racial" America. As you said "Memorial Day" does not include those who fought for freedom who were not in the military. These are the folks who are always left out because to honor them would give the lie to the way the great majority of Americans understand this nation's history. The "day" honors people in the military who, most often, fought wrong wars. I am not intending to "diss" those who fought in this country's wars, their reasons were complex and even understandable, but they were not fighting to preserve or gain freedom but rather to prevent it. So, ironically, we ignore those whose sacrifices should be memorialized and honor those who were not fighting for principles but to defend Amerikkan interests--primarily financial--to keep order at the expense of freedom. Those African Americans (Asians, Native Americans, Latinos as well) who fought in every war (African Americans and Native Americans) that this country fought were usually fighting because they believed that if they they were willing to fight "for" this country it would "prove" they had every right to be citizens--to have the freedom and justice they were supposedly fighting for. Yet, it is one of the most obscene policies of this nation that these men and women were buried in separate cemetaries, lynched, denied those rights after giving their lives to this nation. One episode in particular stays with me. After WWI France honored the Americans who had fallen in defense of France--many were African Americans. When the mothers of soldiers were flown to France to take part in the "memorial" service the African American mothers were flown second class--thy could not be seated with whites. Thanks for the timely blog, Adar.

  2. We should also pray for those who believe/believed they were fighting "for their country" but were fighting for only an elite portion of the populace, for causes that had nothing to do with freedom. For the over-representation of the disadvantaged at the front lines. And for those who are duped into fighting becuase of their systemic lack of other opportunities, based on promises of future opportunities (if you live) - opportunities readily available to others, opportunities that should have already been available to them but continue to be systemically denied.

  3. Stan and D,

    Thank you for your comments!