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The last time I visited the cemetery in Guadalcanal, in June, 1943, I saw a very striking memorial plaque at the entrance, with these verses carved on it:

Here on this forsaken land
They lie in God's abode,
The boys who gave what they loved most
In order that we hold

The peace and freedom of our States
Democracy that's true,
So we may live in peace again,
Beyond the Ocean Blue.

They lived, and loved their country
Just the same as you and I,
And gave their lives in action
So our Faith would never die.

May they be remembered;
For that we're sure they shall.
Here lie the Boys who fought so brave
On the Isle of Guadalcanal.

"May they be remembered." This annual custom of observing Memorial Day in memory of our soldiers dead is the answer to the plea of the poet who wrote those lines on the Island of Guadalcanal. On this day we visit in spirit every cemetery in the world where our beloved soldiers rest in peace. They died that our American democratic way of life might continue.

Until the collapse of France, World War II was called by many, a "phony" war. All of us heard that name given to it. There are many who, even to this day, think that there was little justification for our entrance into the war. Did our boys die in vain? Away with such a thought! Let us not be tricked. There were gigantic issues at stake. The war was basically fought for human freedom and the dignity of man. Let us look at what our enemies have written for the record.

"The program of a view of life means the…………declaration of war against an existing order, against an existing condition, in short against an existing conception of life in general." These are Hitler's own words, taken from MEIN KAMPF. Hitler himself never left us in doubt about his fundamental objective. It was our fault that we did not see and understand.

"Nothing outside or above the State, nothing against the State, everything within the State, everything for the State." These are the words of Mussolini defining Italian Fascism. Substitute "race" or "class" for "State", and you have then defined every form of Totalitarianism. This doctrine of Totalitarianism is the most deadly enemy that Western culture had ever confronted.

Our boys did not die in vain. They died for our liberties and history will prove that conclusively. We honor them today on Memorial Day. But the greatest honor we can give to them is to strive with all our power to live the American way the other 364 days in the year. Let us guard zealously our local liberties; let us be keenly alive to state and national issues; let us not concentrate all of our power in the national government. Let us work and pray; pray for the guidance of God, and work according to our own abilities. Let us frequent the polling places on election days, conscientiously voting for those who are best qualified, and giving those who are lawfully elected our earnest support in civic life. Then our boys will not have died in vain.

All of us are proud of our soldier heroes. They were willing to die for our Country. Have we been willing to live for our Country? Patriotism does not mean a temporary insanity in wartime; it is not a vague mysticism, but a dictate of right reason that has its head in the stars, but its feet on the ground, in peace as in war. We are not very patriotic if we do not strive at all times to contribute our own time and talents to the continued freedom of our own Country.

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Copyright © 1995-2019, Father Scannell. All rights reserved.