On this Memorial Day it’s worth returning to David Mills’ thoughts on the difficulty and necessity of feeling proper gratitude for the sacrifices made by others:
I know that from their sacrifices and losses I and those I love gained much (and much we take for granted), but I find it hard to feel gratitude, or to feel it as strongly as I think I should. It’s mainly a thing to do with the children, and the day is hot and muggy, the different bands play over each other, the fire trucks blare their sirens at a painful level, a disturbing number of local politicians drive by grinning and waving. The sooner the old men march by, the sooner we can get back out of the sun.
People raised when and where I was were robbed of the pleasures and the lessons of gratitude. We were taught that any national hero or patriotic story could be exposed as at best a mixture of good and evil, and more likely as an act mainly of self-interest or desire, when it wasn’t simply made up by the mythologizers.