Choices, Gratitude and Freedom

By Janet Walgren
“You always do what you want to do. This is true with every act. You may say that you had to do something, or that you were forced to, but actually, whatever you do, you do by choice. Only you have the power to choose for yourself.” ~ W. Clement Stone

If this statement is true, and I believe it is, then why do we choose to do what we do? What is our guile, our motivation? Are we choosing to act on greed and self interest or moral principle? Are we willing to make tough choices based on principle regardless of the consequences?

Yesterday was Memorial Day. I don’t know if you are aware of the origin of Memorial Day or the story behind the first Decoration Day. I would like to share it with you because it embodies the choices of many men and women resulting in the liberty and freedom that we enjoy today as a nation.

“According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first Memorial Day was observed in 1865 by liberated slaves at the historic race track in Charleston. The site was a former Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who had died while captive. The freed slaves re-interred the dead Union soldiers from the mass grave to individual graves, fenced in the graveyard & built an entry arch declaring it a Union graveyard; a very daring thing to do in the South shortly after North’s victory. On May 30, 1868 the freed slaves returned to the graveyard with flowers they’d picked from the countryside & decorated the individual gravesites, thereby creating the 1st Decoration Day. A parade with thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers was followed by patriotic singing and a picnic.” ~ Wikipedia

I love this story. I love the gratitude that those people expressed. How many today can say that they have a heart felt appreciation for the sacrifice of life and family that has given us our liberty, our freedom? As I passed the cemetery yesterday, the graves were covered with flowers and flags. But that was yesterday. What about the rest of the year? How do you or I express our gratitude for freedom and all that we enjoy? My first ancestor to stand on American soil came here on the Mayflower. From that time till now, my family has been represented in every war our nation has fought. I have seen first hand the consequences that come to a battle scarred veteran and his family. They are grievous to be born.

As we go about our daily lives conducting our personal and business affairs, I hope that we remember the sacrifices that gave us our privileges. And, as we remember, I hope that we will choose to show our gratitude by the choices we make.

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6 Responses to Choices, Gratitude and Freedom

  1. BARLOW says:

    i lost an uncle who was in the bottom of a japanese boat when the american’s bommbed it, so i am aware of all that is memorial day

  2. marlajayne says:

    Thanks for this story. I’m too lazy or disinclined to look it up right now, so I’ll just ask: Was this Charleston, SC? If so, I’ll have to visit this cemetery the next time I’m there.

  3. lyndaspix says:

    Wow! Excellent and educational post. Thanks!!

    I hope, too, that I always remember the sacrifices made on my behalf.

  4. Barlow,
    I’m sorry about your uncle. It sounds like a sad but interesting story. I hope that your family has it written down for posterity.

    Marlajayne,

    Your welcome and yes it is Charleston, South Carolian. If you do have a chance to visit, I would appreciate a photo of the cemetary. I tried to look for one online but couldn’t find one.

    Lynda,

    Thanks and welcome to my blog. One thing that I feel we can do is to support the veteran’s of the Iraq war by insisting on the government taking care of the medical needs of the vets and by providing the educational benefits that were promised when the young men were recruited. I have heard many of them say that they joined the military so they could get a college education and they had no other way to get it.

    Just last week congress debated altering the benefits in a way that an education wasn’t a viable alternative because they didn’t want a mass exodus from the military when the troops time was up. They were afraid that it would cause a need for a draft which would be politically unpopular. When I heard that on NPR it literally made me sick.

  5. Donna says:

    Thank you for this story.

  6. Donna, You’re Welcome. I’ve been enjoying reading your blog. How is your move progressing?

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