US Government Leaves Unbelievers Out Of Memorial Day

Mday“”We exist, we’re here, we’re normal,”- Sgt. Justin Griffith”

Today is Memorial Day. The purpose behind this is to remember those who have died while serving in the armed forces. There are several accounts regarding the history of this holiday, as several cities and towns lay claim to its origins.  As well, there are other divisions along the lines of gender, race and – of course – whether or not you were living in the north or the south during and after the civil war. In fact, you can find a thoroughly fleshed out article on the history of Memorial Day on Wikipedia.

Unbelievers Not Included…?

I chose my opening quote very deliberately. It was uttered by Sgt. Justin Griffith, a friend, solider and one of the champions for equality within a very religiously biased US Armed Services and the founder of Rock Beyond Belief. Justin, and those like him, have been fighting for years for non-believing soldiers to be recognized among not only the Brass, not just their fellow service men and women, but also by the general public. It’s been an uphill battle, considering that Memorial Day is, according to the US Government, a religious holiday.

In 1950, Congress approved a joint resolution (36 U.S.C. 116) that requests the President to issue a “proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer.”

This code was updated on May 26, 2000 (65 Fed. Reg. 34907), and specifically reads the following regarding Memorial Day:

(a) Designation. – The last Monday in May is Memorial Day.
(b) Proclamation. – The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation –

(1) calling on the people of the United States to observe Memorial Day by praying, according to their individual religious faith, for permanent peace;
(2) designating a period of time on Memorial Day during which the people may unite in prayer for a permanent peace;

(3) calling on the people of the United States to unite in prayer at that time; and
(4) calling on the media to join in observing Memorial Day and the period of prayer.

All Or None…

In May of 2000, President Bill Clinton issued a memorandum titled “National Moment of Remembrance.” This memorandum asked for  all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”  This I have no problem with, whatsoever. It is non-sectarian and does not require anything other than an individual choose whatever they deem appropriate to remember our fallen soldiers. Memorial Day should be a day commemorating the memory of ALL of those who have died in our nation’s service, including soldiers and service members who were not part of a church or any other religious organization.

So, in 1950 the Congress approves a resolution asking the President to make an official proclamation that includes prayer. In the middle of the year 2000, Bill Clinton issues a memorandum stating that a moment of remembrance and respect is more appropriate. By the end of the year 2000, the 106th Congress managed to bastardize Clinton’s memorandum by including it in 36 USC 116 by passing  Public Law 579.106. Thus, the part of 36 USC that was designated to address memorial day was now known as “National Moment of Remembrance Act,” but still includes the original proclamation from 1950, calling for the President to ask for the prayers of the entirety of the United States citizenry, whether or not they believe in God.

Separate, Not Equal…

I feel like we’ve been hoodwinked. I also realize that this is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue. Clinton’s idea of a non-sectarian Memorial Day was exemplary, but the “We’re a Christian Nation” crowd on Capital Hill made sure that the official Memorial Day Presidential Proclamation remains unchanged – regardless of whose party has command of the Oval Office. Here’s the one from George Bush:

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 29, 2006, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer. I also ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day.”

And here’s the one from Barack Obama:

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 28, 2012, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer. I also ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.”

See the difference? Of course you don’t, because there is none…

Christian Nation…?

The observance of Memorial day should reflect the principles behind Clinton’s non-sectarian memorandum. America has never been a Christian nation and the fact that our soldiers have died to protect the Constitution, a document which demands the separation of church and state, is a travesty to me. Memorial Day should serve as a reminder that the United States was founded on freedom and liberty, and it is because of these principles that we fight so ardently to protect our status as a free nation.

The United States was not founded on Christian or Biblical principles and the founding fathers were not all Christians. We are and must remain, at all costs, a free nation and that wall of separation must be defended. As Americans, we must continue to uphold the principles of individual freedom that our country was founded upon and on this day, remember those who have lost their lives to protect those freedoms.

 

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  11 comments for “US Government Leaves Unbelievers Out Of Memorial Day

  1. May 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    can we start our own country? I’m starting to wonder if this one’s hopeless. . . .

  2. May 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    In the Shadow of the Flag did they fight.
    In the Shadow of the Flag did they cry.
    In the Shadow of the Flag did they right.
    In the Shadow of the Flag did they die.

    In the Shadow of the Flag did they come.
    In the Shadow of the Flag they did not run.
    In the Shadow of the Flag their hearts were filled with fire.
    In the Shadow of the Flag their fury for freedom stoked the pyre.

    In the Shadow of the Flag they fought for freedom.
    In the Shadow of the Flag they fought for you.
    In the Shadow of the Flag you have forgotten.
    In the Shadow of the Flag you have forsaken them too.

    You know who you are.
    You know what you do.
    On the backs of heros you have laden your pews.
    On the backs of these warriors who have paid your dues.

    When the fight comes to your door.
    When your crosses can no longer bear.
    They will still come to fight for you.
    They will still come to share.

    They are the godless, the fearless, and many.
    They are the godless, as good as any.
    They are your brothers, your sisters and your friends.
    They are men and women, who will fight to the bitter end.

    Go ahead! Ignore their sacrifice!
    Go ahead! Ignore their pain!
    But, when someone elses fiction comes to claim your paradise.
    They will stand to fight for you once again.

    So, Hang your head low.
    Hang your head deep in shame.
    You are cowards of tripe.
    You are cowards of bane.

    In the Shadow of the Flag they will come to fight.
    In the Shadow of the Flag they will lead for right.
    In the Shadow of the Flag they will muster their might.
    In the Shadow of the Flag… they have, and always will…
    Give themselves for ALL.

    -RJ Evans- 2012

  3. May 28, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Another great post, Al. I did not know that about an actual law asking the president to proclaim that the day of remembrance must include prayer. I know it is a “request” but still. 🙁

  4. Tim Sprague
    May 29, 2012 at 4:06 am

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Al, lol, you don’t have to be a Bible thumper to see more than a little bit of Religious significance in those words.

    Sorry about that. These people believed rights come from the Creator! Not from Government!!

    These people, ultimately created the government by granted limited rights to that government!! A case you made very ably!!

    And you know the Supreme Court cases that hold America was a Christian nation.

    But, why not just put it behind you?

    Let’s work together to restrain the government and chain it down and limit its rights, we the people granted it!!?

    • May 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      That would be “their” creator, not “the” creator. There are now and have been for many, many years those within our society that understand we were created by our parent’s DNA. Put that in your pipe, and smoke it. Nice try, though…

    • N. Nescio
      May 30, 2012 at 12:14 am

      And you know the Supreme Court cases that hold America was a Christian nation.

      So cite ’em. Shouldn’t be too much trouble.

  5. May 29, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Well said Al. I was unaware that Memorial Day officially had religious language behind it. That is a real shame. The message that Clinton advocated for would have been great.

    The idea that we are not a “Christian Nation” is going to be a long battle. It is one that I have no intention of letting up any time soon. There will always be those, like the fellow above me who point to a few words here or there to claim that we were founded as such. The problem with citing the Dec of Ind is that is NOT one of our founding documents, but rather is a declaration of separation from England. It doesn’t really matter what language they used when writing that. The intended audience was King George and Parliament. That is who the language is directed at.

  6. May 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Thanks for the post. I’ve been working on writing a letter to the folks running my town, who always have a super-sectarian prayer at memorial day, arguing that we should avoid that out of respect for the constitution and atheist soldiers. This information will help a great deal.

    • Dave The Sandman
      June 4, 2012 at 7:16 am

      It isnt just the non-religious such sectarian insults…its all the non Christians as well.

      Your department of defence issues statistics of soldiers deaths and injuries by denomination….I used to have a link for the Vietnam War stats but Ive trashed it now. Look around on Google…there are stats out there for WW1, WW2, Korea and Vietnam, as well as probably the current two “wars”. There you will find the numbers of non Christian casualties.

      Point out in your letter that to say a Christian prayer or sectariian prayer of any form is an insult to the memory of all those non Christians.

      Also ask for a formal reply….and publish it. You can guess what the response is gonna be, but make sure this reaches the public….and maybe the FFRF and others who may just take up the fight as well.

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