Memorial Day is a holiday that produces a mixed sense of emotions. On one hand, we are called on to remember those who gave their lives while serving in the American armed services. On the other hand, we often encounter festive activities, parades, and BBQs. How should we feel about Memorial Day? Happy? Sad?

The answer may be both. A good argument can be made that the freedom to do what we want is one of the freedoms that these men and women died for. We can do this while being grateful for their sacrifices.

I cannot help but wonder, however, about how military conflict has become such a significant part of our lives. According to the Global Conflict Tracker, there are currently 26 areas of significant, militarized conflict going on in the world. While these conflict have not escalated into global wars between global powers, the use of violence to achieve political ends remains clear and present.

We should be reminded that the solution to our global problems need not be through military might but through effective diplomacy by competent leaders. We should only be sending our young men and women into harms way when there is absolutely no other solution, and only when the issues directly impact the interests of our county (though this is sometimes a difficult call to make considering the global supply chain and the international economy.)

We can enjoy this holiday, BBQ our burgers, be sad, joyous, and grateful, all at the same time. But let’s also take action (with our vote and our engaged civic activity) to ensure the number of those who do give “full measure” in battle is as small as possible.

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