I watched President Biden’s Memorial Day Speech today. It is the best speech I have heard from him thus far. Here are a few of the highlights for me:
He talked about the Right of Remembrance. He may have meant “Rite”, but I thought about the current efforts in the country to keep particular parts of our history out of the history books our children will be using in schools. Every community’s history needs to find a place in those books. Our children should know the truth even the bad so that we can learn from mistakes and continue to grow.
He refers to the United States of America as “the Great Experiment.” Of all expressions this stirs patriotism in me the most. This nation is attempting to make a democracy work in a world where many in the world believe it can’t. It takes work, honesty, willingness to tell the truth and to change when needed. This phrase stirs me to be part of those who keep trying to make the country better.
“They died for us, for the freedom to…” I have heard this phrase multiple times. This morning I ask myself “freedom to do what?” For many Americans, it mean freedom to do whatever they want. But Biden stressed the importance of oneness…which for me, means caring for our fellow Americans. It is the golden rule applied. As I seek my own freedom, I seek the freedom of all Americans, especially those who have been deprived of their rights thus far.
He said, “Empathy is the fuel of democracy.” YES! As I implied above, Democracy only works if we are working for one another as much as for ourselves. Empathy is the capacity to see and feel experience from another person’s vantage point.
This was my favorite: “Every year we get a little more inclusive.” This gave me hope. When we are studying history, we need to tell the truth about the harms we have done, yes, but we need to also acknowledge the lessons we have learned and the improvements along the way. Sometimes I lose sight of these and that is when my patriotism wanes.
Today I thank those who gave their lives for my country. I hope to make their sacrifice worth it as I try to work with others toward the American ideal: One Nation Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.