Memorial Day typically marks the unofficial start of the summer season. But let’s also take time out to remember those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” for their country. To honor those brave men and women in uniform who gave their lives so we can enjoy the blessings and responsibilities of liberty today.
Abraham Lincoln’s poignant two minute speech dedicated the Gettysburg National Cemetery just four months after that bloody battle took place. The Gettysburg Address memorializes the enormous debt of thanks and gratitude that we, the living, owe to those who gave “the last full measure of devotion” that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.”
We cannot dedicate, consecrate, or hallow the sacrifice of those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” to their country beyond what they have already done. But we can remember. We can reflect. We can humbly honor their sacrifice. It is up to us, the living, to never forget.
One way to “never forget” is to read.
Worthy Reads for this Memorial Day weekend:
- The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. The historical novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975. In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty were also the casualties of war. Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece is unique, sweeping, unforgettable—the dramatic story of the battleground for America’s destiny.
The Bridges at Toko-Ri, by James Michener. A tale of the American men who fought the Korean War, detailing their exploits in the air as well as their lives on the ground. Young and innocent, they arrive in a place they have barely ever heard of, on a ship massive enough to carry planes and helicopters. Trained as professionals, they prepare for the rituals of war that countless men before them have endured, and face the same fears. They are American fighter pilots. Together they face an enemy they do not understand, knowing their only hope for survival is to win.
The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane. Don’t make me explain this.
A Medal for Leroy, by Michael Morpurgo
When Michael’s aunt passes away, she leaves a letter that changes everything. It starts with Michael’s grandfather Leroy, a black officer in World War I who charged into a battle zone not once but three times to save wounded men. His fellow soldiers insisted he deserved special commendations for his bravery. But because of the racial barriers, he would go unacknowledged. Now it’s up to Michael to change that.
A moving, memorable story of family, identity, and history. Inspired by the true story of Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British army.
My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier.
This Newbery Honor book brings the Revolutionary War to life. Young Tim Meeker’s 16 year-old brother goes off to fight with the Patriots while his father remains a reluctant British Loyalist in the Tory town of Redding, CT. Young Tim knows he’ll have to make a choice – the Patriots or the Redcoats – and between his father and his brother. A stirring tale full of action and suspense.
What would you add?