But most of all, Memorial Day is about perspective.
It’s a day given over to thinking about something bigger than ourselves. Like the sacrifices made on our behalf by freedom fighters we never knew. And, of course, pondering the infinite, and our modest role in it.
If there was one thing we could give to the young this graduation season, it might just be perspective. An ability to think things through properly. An appreciation for the long term – not just in this life, but beyond it.
If people would stop and consider the big picture – the fact that we all pass from this life; the likelihood that our ancestors are watching us now, and would not want to find us lacking; the fact that we will all be called to account for our earthly
actions – how different things would be.
Wouldn’t we be more patient with others, and even ourselves? Would there be crime, abuse or neglect? How could there be, if what we were seeing was so much bigger than ourselves?
Selfishness is the rot that eats away at the foundation of a good life or a great society. It’s at the core of so many of mankind’s self-inflicted problems. But an expanded perspective eats away at selfishness.
Nothing offers a new perspective quite like the thought of a stranger having died for your betterment, for your freedom and happiness.
Such heroes have many lofty qualities in varying quantities. Courage. Clarity. Grit. But the main thing they have that we should aspire to may simply be perspective.
Today is about so many things that are so much bigger than us. But then, every day can be.
May you take that perspective with you into the summer, fall and winter of your years.