It was a year ago this weekend when Chandler and I entered the valley where the town of Eagle Nest, New Mexico sits on the shore of Eagle Nest Lake. It was Memorial Day weekend, and as we wound along the mountain road down into the valley, American flags began to show up attached to all the road signs and guard rails. We encountered hundreds — if not thousands — of flags on either side of the road coming into town, and once in town, there were flags everywhere and bikers by the hundreds. It looked like a Hell’s Angels convention, except that these were highly patriotic angels. They had little flags on their bikes and flags sewn to their vests and jackets, and flags all over their campgrounds, and flags lining the main streets in town.
We could really use a Memorial Day right now in this country, divided as it is. Memorial Day has come to mean barbecues, sales events, and the official beginning of summer vacation. But we need a traditional Memorial Day celebration when we remember those who have died in the service of our country.
We need a Memorial Day because Memorial Days are non-political. Memorial Days are American. You don’t die for a Republican Congress or a Democratic President, or a conservative or liberal agenda; you die for a country. You don’t die for Obama or for Trump; you die for a country that allows you to elect either one. Blood doesn’t bleed red or blue depending on the leanings of your state, it bleeds red depending on the condition of your heart, and there was a lot of heart in Eagle Nest valley last year. We need more of the same.
So as we honor those who died for religious freedom — let’s remember that would be freedom not just for Christians, but for all religions and none. Freedom of religion means just that — freedom for all religions. This is not a Christian country; it’s a free country. Our soldiers have died for Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Hare Krishnas, and atheists as well as for Christians and Jews.
We need this holiday right now. We need to remember those who have died for a united America and its ideals of equality, liberty and justice for all. May God bless America — the one that belongs to everyone who lives here. That’s the America 1.5 million soldiers have died for since 1776.