Memorial Day - A Day to Reflect

By Louis Sportelli, DC
By now, Memorial Day is a recent memory, however, it did provide an opportunity to reflect on some of the celebrations and speeches that were given in local and national forums. One in particular caught my eye. It involved a World War II mother who wrote a poem and addressed it to, of all people, Uncle Sam, as though he were a real person:

Uncle Sam, I give my son to you,
A tall young lad, whom you'll find loyal, true.
He joins brave men who've come from far and wide
To keep aloft our heritage and pride.
These eighteen years, my boy has laughed and played;
Grew to young manhood eager, unafraid.
A way of life, blessed by the one above,
That he will guard with all his strength and love.
Uncle Sam, my son belongs to you,
Now proudly clad in uniform of blue.
When victory's won and men again are free,
God willing, you will give him back to me.

This poem represents the plea and hope of all mothers in all wars: "God willing, you will give my son or daughter back to me."

Memorial Day services all over the country honored fallen heroes. It was a day to reflect on the many who have died for liberty; democracy; freedom; justice; and peace. We often forget that in the U.S., four or five wars were fought before someone conceived the idea that the lives and deeds of these heroes should be remembered and sanctified. Only then did Memorial Day become a reality.

Our heroes were first honored in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, the organization of veterans of the Union Army, initiated a memorial service on a nationwide scale what women in several Dixie cities had been doing as a local spring ceremony - remembering the Civil War dead by placing flowers on their graves. The Grand Army of the Republic asked its members to do the same on May 30, 1868, directing that wherever its fallen soldiers lay interred, respect and reverence be shown on this day.

It was General James Garfield, one of our martyred presidents, who spoke at that first Memorial Day observance on the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery, which had been established four years earlier. Its graves were those of the recent dead - the casualties of a recent war. General Garfield said: "We do not know one promise these men made; one pledge they gave; one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected by one supreme act the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country, they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts and made immortal their patriotism and virtue."

All these men were honored with the proud title "veteran." Today, chiropractic is engaged in an internal battle that may destroy our ability to provide services to these worthy individuals. Those men and women who were willing to put their lives on the line for our country and its ideals, are now subject to the petty, internal disputes regarding the delivery of chiropractic care by a profession that should be honoring their service.

With the exception of those that have seen war firsthand, few of us really know what it means to be a veteran. It is difficult for this generation to know war. With the flick of a knob, it can be turned on or off. These are TV wars, treated as entertainment. A long-held belief that America is invincible was shattered on September 11, and our nation will never again be the same. And to those who have seen battle, it was a reminder of the memories that are engraved in their minds and hearts.

What was the reason for the wars, and the sacrifice of life, if not to ensure freedom? Perhaps as we approach Independence Day we should also remember that the most powerful weapon our country has to guarantee-peace and freedom-was created by the genius of our great, great, forefathers: the Constitution of the United States. We have read it as children; we have reviewed it as teenagers; and we remember it as adults. Perhaps we do not know it word-for-word, but the essence of it is the foundation and strength of our great country: "... freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and all other freedoms we cherish." Note, however, that carefully drafted into the articles of the Constitution is the secret of all our other freedoms: the right or freedom to vote.

Soon the airwaves will be filled with political advertisements and the acrimony and ad hominem attacks that make it difficult to decipher the real issues of the campaign. Our profession has a wonderful opportunity to exert influence on candidates or those who wish to unseat incumbents; the system provides for mechanisms to exercise that influence. We have national and state associations that beg and plead for membership and contributions to political action committees. Yet, many in this profession choose to ignore this golden opportunity to participate in the most priceless of all freedoms.

Chiropractic has achieved significant gains since its beginning in 1895, overcoming obstacles that caused many less hearty or resourceful professions to become extinct. It is now time for many in the profession who have sat on the proverbial fence to step down and make a declaration of war against those who would seek to eliminate the profession; those within the profession who are preventing the profession from advancing; a small, but vocal minority who have gained disproportionate influence and perceive power simply because there has been no organized opposition; health care that is not patient-centered; those who will not accept responsibility and accountability; and apathy,

Were every DC to simply take a moment to reflect on the freedoms of this great country and the privilege of practicing this great profession, would there be any doubt about the passion that must exist to preserve these freedoms and privileges?

I ask each DC to view Memorial Day and the Fourth of July as holidays steeped in the tradition of remembering supreme sacrifices by so many who have gone before us. It is perhaps time to rekindle and inspire a rededication to our heritage, our heroes, and what this great profession stands for.

Without the freedoms we often take for granted, little stands between self-rule and dictatorship; between freedom and oppression; and between peace and conflict. When each individual takes personal responsibility, nothing can go wrong. When apathy and complete indifference prevail, nothing will go right. The freedom to choose is ours.

Louis Sportelli,DC
Palmerton, Pennsylvania

Click here for previous articles by Louis Sportelli, DC.

Page printed from: