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FEATURE

The Modern Meaning of Memorial Day





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In the United States, since World War I, the last Monday in May, which was once known as “Decoration Day,” has been known as “Memorial Day.”

While many will be setting up their grills, weather-permitting, and fixing barbeque for friends and family alike, or gathering with friends at restaurants, or in whatever location, thankful for a long weekend and looking forward to the summer, numerous journalists will also be making commentary on what this day means. They will be talking about our soldiers, and whether one is for or against the two wars in which we are currently embroiled, they will be reminding us that those who have fought and died for us, our country, and our freedoms, should be foremost in our minds.

I agree with this wholeheartedly, for whether one is for war or against it, no one should take issue with our veterans themselves and only have inherent respect for an experience none could imagine unless in their shoes. My great-grandfather, a veteran of the Spanish-American War, and WWI on the Western Front, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He is buried with others who have marked our country’s sacrifice in the midst of conflict.

But I would also like to make commentary on something that we should also be thinking about on this day. Let me amend that to say this day, and perhaps on every other, particularly for those of us who live in the West.

Earlier this month, on May 3rd, was World Press Freedom Day. It was a day that came and went to little fanfare. Even in this day when Iran is limiting or ceasing people’s access to Facebook during elections—where they should be able to communicate freely and exchange information about candidates—to the arrest and imprisonment of an Iranian-American journalist, Roxane Sabieri, who was accused of spying against Iran (who sang the American anthem to give herself strength during the ordeal), freedom of speech and freedom of the press have never been such important issues as they are now. Now, in this information age, this age of instant communication via varying means from SMS, email, Facebook and other social networking sites, IM, Skype, mobile phones and video conferencing, freedom of information has never been easier and more immediate. However, in most countries around the world, it is still limited.  Continued...

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