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Commentary

May,  2007

 

Fewer than a thousand Delawareans bothered to observe Memorial Day and that is a generous estimate which includes those who participated in some related activity on the ersatz holiday two days earlier.

Adjutant general Frank Vavala told a sparse crowd attending the traditional memorial service at the

conclusion of the 140th annual parade in Wilmington that he was "disappointed by the indifference of a majority of Americans."

That is particularly appalling at a time when U.S. troops are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As Vavala noted, relatively few civilians are personally affected by those engagements and the American public has not been required to make any sacrifices or adjustment in the course of daily life.

Interestingly enough, the contingent representing Pacem in Terris, a pacifist organization, were applauded as they passed the reviewing stand carrying posters calling for the troops to be supported by being brought home from a senseless war. In past years those marchers were greeted with boos.

Wilmington has the distinction of being one of the few places where May 30 has been observed as

Edith O'Brion (in white uniform), vice chair of the Wilmington Memorial Day Committee, receives a floral wreath to place at the base of Soldiers & Sailors Monument. Members of the Newark High School Junior R.O.T.C. form the honor guard.

a day of remembrance of those who have fallen in defense of the nation since it was proclaimed as a perpetual memorial in 1868 while the wounds of Civil War were only beginning heal. General John Logan and other officers of the Grand Army of the Republic did not want the restored republic to forget.

Only the efforts of an intrepid band of men and women who have voluntarily assumed the obligation to do so have made that so over these many years.

Would that federal and state governments return Memorial Day to its rightful place on the calendar and thereby rekindle the patriotism and gratitude originally intended. That needs be done before even the small degree of remembrance which remains is lost in the swirl of misguided priorities.

If there needs to be a beginning-of-summer holiday we suggest adopting the custom of our Scandinavian forebear and establish it to coincide with the actual beginning of the season.

    

Once again the General Assembly has refused to enact even a minimal ban on using a cellular telephone while driving. That is despite the fact that the toll of death, injury and property damage as a result of avoidable collisions is at crisis level. Why can't tiny Delaware take a recognized significant step in beginning to cope while New York, among others, manages to do so quite well?

We hope that Representative Joe Miro persists in his efforts to address a problem which affects all of us until more than a minority of his colleagues give up their legislative inattentiveness and face up to their responsibility.

2007. All rights reserved.

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