A day that transcends politics | Editorials

In 1863, more than 100 people died as a riot raged against conscription in New York City. Rioters who spoke out against the draft union were directed against abolitionists and blacks in particular.

In 1917 socialists like Eugene Debs were arrested under the Espionage Act, which was passed by Congress to prevent “interference with the success of the armed forces”.

In 1941, aviator Charles Lindbergh told a crowd in Des Moines that the British government, the Roosevelt government, and Jews had conspired to bring America into a European war. Regarding Jewish influence, Lindbergh said, “Your greatest danger to this country lies in its vast wealth and influence over our films, our press, our radio and our government.”

These anecdotes are not offered as confirmation of objectionable views, or are intended to embarrass or in any way diminish American efforts in times of war or dispute. They only serve to indicate that ours is not the only era where domestic public opinion appears unruly, passionate, and divided. The politics are ugly and sometimes the country only looks uniform in retrospect. Yet those who serve then and now are demonstrably demonstrating that they rose above the discord with professionalism, honor, and bravery, even if the home front does not always reciprocate.

This has been the case for almost 250 years. The graves of soldiers from the American Revolution and the Civil War are found in the cemeteries in St. Joseph. Current census data shows that more than 6,100 residents of Buchanan County, or 9% of the adult population, are veterans. The Pew Research Center finds that Gulf War veterans nationally make up the largest number of those who have served in the armed forces today. This is an indicator of how times are changing but the call to service is not.

All of these veterans left home to serve, but not all returned. Their stories are as varied as life itself, but they all open up a deep vein of appreciation and recognition that should never run dry even in today’s world, which sometimes seems so broken. Whether the home temperature is worse today is debatable, but perhaps everyone can agree that those who have served deserve something better and nobler than what is often shown in the cities they fought to protect.

On this day of remembrance we put flowers on graves or take a break to remember the sacrifice. Perhaps today more than anything a sense of calm and quiet is appropriate, not the silence, ignoring the service, but the calm reflection that counteracts the noise of the fight, and also screaming and pointing the finger home. Let’s see how we can rest for at least a day.

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