Each Monday, we turn to a day in the newspaper's history for a look at what the Editorial Board found worthy of comment. We will preserve the punctuation and capitalization of the original editorial column. Here is what we wrote on Memorial Day, May 29, 1946:
'For Us the Living' ...
It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here ... to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain ..."
Those words, so familiar and often repeated that only their beauty and eloquence rescue them from banality, can be read today in a new light. Their fresh meaning becomes almost an accusation as the nation pauses, on the first peacetime Memorial Day in five years, to honor the dead of this latest and greatest war along with those who gave their lives in earlier conflicts.
Ours is indeeda great task today. But how well does our devotion to it honor those who gave the last full measure? How earnestly do we strive to make sure that the dead have not died in vain?
The answer is not a source of pride. The strength and unity with which the nation supported the men who fought its war are relaxed and broken. There are many who despair of the peace so dearly won, and laugh at the painful effort of a new society, built upon the costly victory, to maintain that peace.
The dead whom we honor today fought to defend "the proposition that all mean are created equal" against those who would destroy the freedom and dignity of men. They fought to defend the nation dedicated to that proposition. But, though the nation pays them homage today, its general behavior yesterday and tomorrow does them scant honor.
We quarrel and bicker and accuse. Group clashes with selfish group in pursuit of selfish goals. We suspect our neighbors and our neighbor nations.
And what of "the brave men living" who fought and survived? We seem to have forgotten some of our sincere wartime promises of unforgetting gratitude and a better life. Many of those men who fought the nation's war, far too many of them, are ill-housed and ill-clothed, jobless or poorly employed. And still houses are not built, goods are not produced, jobs are not provided. And still we strike and wrangle.
Let us be dedicated to the great task remaining before us. Let us here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. It is the least that we can do, and, remembering, it is little enough.