Today, I offer due honor to all who have given their lives to support the preservation or enhancement of liberty for themselves and others. For them, championing freedom was worth the loss of their own precious existence—a profound gift that is indeed worthy of utmost respect. As a grateful beneficiary of their courage, I salute them.
I know that many who value their privilege of self-determination join me on this solemn occasion of remembrance. Such brave deeds should never be forgotten—they must live on in the memories of all who may now, and as we move forward in time, confidently exercise their personal sovereignty.
This day was originally celebrated in the U.S. as Decoration Day, and the great American composer Charles Ives wrote an eponymous piece in 1912, which became the second movement of his Holiday Symphony. Here, Ives reaches back to his childhood in Danbury to capture the sensibilities aroused by his father’s band playing various marches and hymn tunes as well as “Taps” to commemorate this holiday. These are woven in that dreamy collage-style he developed that well-captures stream of consciousness reminiscences.
Please listen to Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic play Ives’ brief and poignant work:
This music embodies the act of grateful remembrance for brave sacrifices as well as the celebratory spirit of those who benefitted by them. Being in the midst of a pandemic wherein many health care workers have given their lives to combat the virus-caused disease that has killed so many brings an additional resonance to this solemn day.
—Magus Peter H. Gilmore