We encourage you to attend the Memorial Day parade on May 28th at 12pm and to check out the other events around Stamford this weekend:
For most Americans Memorial Day has come to represent the weekend that kicks off the summer season. This year let's restore the history of this American holiday by taking time to remember the real reason we have a 3-day-weekend: to honor all of those who have died fighting in service to the United States during peace and war.
This begs the question: what does it mean to "die fighting in service to the United States?
This is a particularly good question in a period of American history when Congress, the only branch of government delegated the power to declare war (Article I, Section 8), has not made a declaration of war since 1942 when it authorized military engagement in World War II. The Korean war, the Vietnam war, the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, and all of our other military engagements since then, were never authorized by a declaration of war from Congress, making them illegal and unconstitutional acts.
What then did all of the men and women who put on that uniform fight and die for?
To answer that we must go back to the origins of Memorial Day: The Civil War, the deadliest battle in American history, responsible for more than 620,000 deaths, or about 2% of the population at that time (that's the equivalent of more than 6.6 million people today).
With death touching communities across the nation, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, John A. Logan, designated May 30th as an annual day of remembrance to honor the graves of the more than 360,000 of Union troops.
Logan didn't designate the day to remember all of these deaths, only the deaths of those fighting for the Union - those fighting with the explicit mission of expanding the promise of the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal"; and to prevent the expansion of slavery into the western territories.
Modern popular history has muddied our understanding of the Civil War, by suggesting it was more about "state rights" than it was about slavery. This is wrong on two levels: First, Constitutionally speaking, there is no such thing as "state rights." The Constitution protects the individual rights that each person has been "endowed by their Creator with," and only delegates some of the responsibility of protecting those rights to the states. Second, Abraham Lincoln became President based on his conviction against the expansion of slavery in a series of debates with Stephen A. Douglas who was a supporter of the expansion of slavery
At the 1871 celebration of Memorial Day at the Arlington National Cemetery, Frederick Douglass said:
“We must never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the republic. We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation’s destroyers.”
On this Memorial Day, let us remember why this nation is worth fighting and dying for.
Let us remember the fundamental principles and values that have served as the single most liberalizing force in all of human history that within two generations of their conception they defeated an institution as old as the human race itself: slavery.
Let us remember the many men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the inalienable rights given to men by their Creator.
On this Memorial Day, let us remember.