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Opinion: Amid our conflict, honor fallen vets

As our annual Memorial Day observance approaches, I wondered why - given the division and rancor in the nation today - we take the time.

Take a look at a newspaper, television show or electronic device news feed and anyone can see it.

As I write, I see conflict everywhere. It’s sneaked into the everyday fabric of our lives.

A short list comes to mind:

• Former President Donald Trump’s trial in New York City, not to mention the myriad issues of his businesses, candidacy and failed reelection pending in other states.

• The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, refueling the disagreement between pro-life and pro-choice supporters.

• The right to bear arms and gun violence.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

The discord trickles down to all levels, reaching municipal governments, community organizations and even longtime neighbors.

As I see it, it comes for three reasons, though many might argue there are plenty more.

First and foremost, there’s the racial issue. It’s something that goes back hundreds of years and something that lately has become a catch all for nearly any disagreement.

The changing face of local communities brings with it a change in culture, religion and socio-economic status. Disagreements on things of that ilk often bring allegations of racism that only widen a community’s divide.

Next is money. Our system, capitalism, measures success by wealth, not value. The “haves” look down on the “have-nots,” and the “have-nots” breed contempt for those who “have.” Those feelings filter to other issues of everyday life.

And last - but definitely not least - is the split in media coverage that perpetuates the angst.

Never in 40 plus years have I seen a divide as wide as the one that exists today. Electronic outlets especially run the gamut of opinion, choosing one side of an issue while others spew a blended mix of limited sources to spread their message. These outlets often preach diversity, but rarely offer suggestions about understanding an alternate view, instead fueling the discontent and division among us.

I could probably go on, but I’m getting away from my point.

At the beginning of this piece, I was wondering why we honor fallen veterans on Memorial Day.

And actually, the answer is pretty clear.

Veterans made all this stuff possible … those countless men and women whose remains lay beneath tombstones in cemeteries all over the world.

Their sacrifices in faraway combat or their subsequent passing due to complications afterward allowed us the unfortunate opportunity to create the angst we see in everyday life.

Those men and women represented what was good and right in the world and gave their lives in the process.

They showed patriotism and defended the freedoms they enjoyed in their time, and we enjoy today. Whatever their individual beliefs, they came together to further those ideals.

They had a sense of service. Their sacrifice preserves our democracy and allows us the discourse and discord of recent years.

They inspire the future and a sense of duty. How many times these days have we heard “Thank you for your service” when we encounter someone who was lucky enough to make it home from a tour in a combat zone?

These fallen heroes deserve our gratitude for the impact they’ve had on the nation, though they never realized it at the time of their service.

Lastly, they heal our divisions. On this day of backyard barbecues, parades and cemetery services, we can all gather in their names and agree that no matter what side you’re on, where you live, the color of your skin or your ethnic background, we look to them to remind us that we’re all in this together.

Take the time to attend one of those services on Memorial Day. Pause for a minute at 3 p.m. local time and be part of the National Day of Remembrance, a simple moment of silence to honor those who died serving their country.

If just for a moment, silence the anger and quell the controversy.

Show the pride in our fallen veterans that they had in our country when they wore its uniform.

And don’t ever forget their sacrifice helped make that moment and countless others happen.

ED SOCHA | tneditor@tnonline.com

ED SOCHA is a retired newspaper editor with more than 40 years’ experience in community journalism. Reach him at tneditor@tnonline.com.

The foregoing opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board or Times News LLC.