Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, a day to honor and pay tribute to the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country’s freedom. It’s a day to reflect on the true cost of that freedom and what it means to be an American.
Race and ethnicity have defined every nation on earth except one: the United States of America. America is defined by values, values that are enshrined in our founding documents and have guided us throughout our history. To understand America, one must understand these values, and they are E Pluribus Unum, Liberty, and In God We Trust.
The first American value, E Pluribus Unum, is Latin for “Out of many, one.” When it was first adopted as an American motto shortly after the American founding in 1776, it referred to the thirteen American colonies becoming one nation. Over time, however, most Americans understood the motto to mean one people from many backgrounds. The E Pluribus Unum Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, explains, “Over the years, E Pluribus Unum has also served as a reminder of America’s bold attempt to make one unified nation of people from many different backgrounds and beliefs.” In other words, America does not care about your national or ethnic origins. This explains why people who immigrate to America assimilate faster and more fully than immigrants to any other country.
In Europe, for example, millions of Turks have immigrated to Germany, but they are not considered fully German by fellow Germans, fully Swedish by fellow Swedes, or fully Spanish by fellow Spaniards. This is even true of their children and grandchildren. And, just as importantly, few of those immigrants – or their children or grandchildren – will ever feel fully German, Swedish, or Spanish. But a Turk who immigrates to the United States will be regarded as fully American – as American as any other American – the moment he or she becomes a citizen. And they – and certainly their children – will feel fully American.
Of course, America has not always lived up to this “E Pluribus Unum” ideal. But the ideal was always there. And it was applied to virtually every immigrant to America. America has had its struggles with racism and discrimination, but it has made tremendous progress over the years in creating a more equal and inclusive society.
The second American value is liberty. Now, one might ask, “Did not the French Revolution also enshrine liberty as a central national value? Was not its motto ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’?” The answer is yes. America is hardly the only country to enshrine liberty; it is the only country to enshrine “Liberty,” “E Pluribus Unum,” and “In God We Trust.”
So, what is the difference? The difference is this: The moment you affirm equality, as the French Revolution did, you will lose liberty. Liberty is a basic American value that all human beings are born equal, and all must be equal before the law. But ending up equal – that’s a French and European value. And if you want people to end up equal, you must deprive them of liberty. Which is exactly what happened right after the French Revolution and in every other society that made equality its national goal.
America gives people the liberty to end up wherever their abilities, work ethic, and luck take them – meaning unequal. Therefore, professional athletes will make more money than teachers or doctors. That may be unfortunate, but that is what liberty allows. If you want equality, you will tell people how much they can earn – and that means the end of liberty.
And the third American value is “In God We Trust.” Unlike almost every other country, America never had a state religion. But it was founded on the principle that God – specifically, the God of the Bible – is the source of moral values. As the Declaration of Independence put it, all people “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In other words, rights come from God, not from men. If rights are given by men, men can take them away.
The American values are the reason America became the world’s freest and most prosperous country. But despite these challenges, the American people have remained committed to these core values. As a nation, we have weathered many storms throughout our history, including world wars, economic depressions, and social upheavals. Yet, we have emerged stronger each time, as we continue to embrace these fundamental principles that have served as the backbone of our society.
One of the ways in which we honor these values is through our observance of Memorial Day. This national holiday is a time for us to come together as a country and remember the sacrifice of the men and women who have given their lives in service to our nation. It is a time to reflect on the true cost of freedom and the debt that we owe to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
For many Americans, Memorial Day is a time of solemn remembrance. It is a time to visit the graves of loved ones who have died in service to our country and to pay our respects to those who have given their lives in defense of our freedom. It is a time to honor and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance and reflection on the sacrifices made by the brave men and women of our armed forces.
It is a day to honor the fallen heroes who gave their lives in service to our country. It is also a day to recognize the sacrifices made by their families and loved ones, who have borne the burden of their loss. For them, every day is Memorial Day.
As we remember our fallen heroes, we should also reflect on the values for which they fought and died. The American values of E Pluribus Unum, Liberty, and In God We Trust are the bedrock of our nation. They are what make America great and what make us a shining example of freedom and democracy to the world.
E Pluribus Unum, or “Out of Many, One,” is a value that has been at the heart of America since its founding. It is the idea that we are all united as one people, regardless of our backgrounds or beliefs. This value has allowed America to become a melting pot of cultures and ideas, where people from all over the world can come together and create a new and better life.
Liberty is another American value that is central to our identity as a nation. It is the idea that every person has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This value is enshrined in our Constitution and has been defended by generations of Americans who have fought and died to protect our freedom.
In God We Trust is a value that reflects our nation’s belief in the power of faith and the importance of morality. It is the idea that our rights come from a higher power, and that we have a duty to live our lives in a way that is consistent with our values and beliefs.
These values have made America the greatest nation on earth. They have allowed us to overcome adversity and to stand strong in the face of tyranny and oppression. They have inspired generations of Americans to serve their country and to make sacrifices for the greater good.
On Memorial Day, we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend these values. We honor those who have given their lives so that we may live in a free and democratic society. We honor their courage, their sacrifice, and their commitment to the values that make America great.
But Memorial Day is not just a day to honor the fallen. It is also a day to remember the living, to thank those who have served our country and to support them in their ongoing struggles. Many veterans return home with physical and emotional wounds that can last a lifetime. It is our duty as a nation to support them and to ensure that they receive the care and resources they need to live fulfilling and productive lives.
We must also remember that the values for which our fallen heroes fought and died are still under threat. There are those who seek to undermine our democracy, to divide us by race and ethnicity, and to erode the values that have made America great. We must stand strong against these threats and reaffirm our commitment to the values that make America exceptional.
Copyright ©John Trenary, 2023. All rights reserved.