As I reflect upon what I wrote earlier today about Memorial Day, it occurs to me that my thoughts about the meaning and purpose of this day are consistent with how I was always taught. Memorial Day is a day of remembering those who died in service for our country, yes, and because of those sacrifices I enjoy freedom. What an individualistic point of view to think of how I benefited from the sacrifice others! What is lost in narrowing the view down to myself is seeing the good in the sacrifice.

We live in an extremely cynical world that teaches humanity only seeks personal advantage, that we are primarily driven by self-interest. The concept of sacrifice pushes against this cynicism. People who run into a burning building and sign up to serve in the military do not want to die but they understand the possibility and and do anyway because they are not driven by self-interest.

It is good to remember those who died in service to our country, and it is even better to remember why they died, which was less for our individual freedom and more for something beyond themselves, something good that they themselves would not enjoy. Cynicism and contempt of others is not the lesson of Memorial Day. Cynicism teaches us why there is evil, but in a such a worldview the far more interesting and important questions is, why is there any good?