Editorial: This Memorial Day there are added reasons to remember and thank those who have sacrificed

photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration

Lawrence Journal-World Editorial

No matter how well-crafted, the point on an analogy is duller than a point on a bullet. Anyone who has been struck by both will attest to that, if they have the chance. Thus, while America is currently engaged in an epic struggle, it is not at war.

War is war. Little else accurately compares.

This Memorial Day weekend, of course, is a time set aside to remember those members of the U.S. Armed Forces who died while serving our country. While the holiday often is associated with the hot dogs and hamburgers of summer, we should all pause and remember that is not the type of sustenance that sustains a nation. Nations are sustained by sacrifices for a greater good.

A declaration of war does not have to be declared for that fact to be true.

It is important, though, that we take a moment to specifically remember those who sacrificed their lives in service of our military. While certainly it can be a proud experience, it also can be a terrifying one, often dominated by young men and women who haven’t yet come close to experiencing the full offerings of our great country. It is one of many injustices in war that the young are disproportionally its casualties.

Even if you do not personally know of someone who died while serving in our military, please a take a moment this weekend to pause silently and remember all those in aggregate who have. It is an important part of being a grateful American.

After that, it is perfectly appropriate to use this holiday weekend to remember other friends and loved ones who have died, whether in the service of the military or not. Such memories are incredibly important in maintaining our sense of family and our sense of place. In today’s hurried world — well, it used to be rushed with activity — it is too easy to simply run out of time to remember. On a long holiday weekend, we surely can find time.

On a long holiday weekend in this particular time, it seems particularly appropriate that we expand the meaning of Memorial Day even more. While we are remembering, we should remember those who not only are sacrificing during this pandemic — certainly any who have died from it — but also those who are leading us through it.

Douglas County residents have been very fortunate to have excellent leadership during this pandemic, thus far. Local governments and health care entities have come together to form what they call a Unified Command Structure.

In essence, it means that members of the city of Lawrence, Douglas County, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health and LMH Health have come together to not only share in strategy but also to share in resources as we work our way through this pandemic.

The four entities announced last week that they are ending the Unified Command Structure, for now, to return to a more normal set of governing operations. It is a positive sign that our leaders believe we’ve made true progress in containing this virus.

The lockdown and social distancing has not been easy, and not every decision, regulation or their enforcement have been popular. It would be too much to expect for that to be so. But the leaders of Unified Command — County Administrator Sarah Plinsky, City Manager Craig Owens, LMH President and CEO Russ Johnson, public health executive director Dan Partridge, and public health officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino — have been thoughtful, stable and compassionate leaders.

We should never take for granted such qualities in leadership. We should never take for granted that our country or community simply will make the sacrifices to the greater good that are required for our nation’s beautiful ideal to continue moving forward. We all must be prepared to make them.

On this long weekend, though, let us start by simply remembering those who already have.


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