Davel: Be ashamed if you don’t observe holiday

Retired Army colonel points out that meaning of Memorial Day has been lost in modern culture
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Shawano’s annual Memorial Day ceremony on May 29 paid tribute to the men and women who have fought for freedom in America, but retired U.S. Army Col. James Davel made it clear what he thought of folks in Shawano County who don’t take time to honor the fallen.

Davel expressed his gratitude to the veterans in the audience, whether they marched to Woodlawn Cemetery from Huckleberry Harbor with the American flag and other symbols of the country, or whether they were quietly watching from lawn chairs they’d brought from home.

“I certainly appreciate it, and so does our nation,” Davel said. “Memorial Day is a day of ceremonies and speeches. Today, we honor the dead of our wars. We recall their valor and their sacrifices so that others might live free. Memorial Day is a chance to reconnect to the genesis of our nation’s enormous freedoms.”

Davel noted that past generations of Americans kept the holiday as quiet and somber. It was a day of reverence for warriors, he said, and a meager price to pay for the lives that they enjoy through the rest of the year.

“We live in a different time today,” Davel said. “Our nation and our culture has lost its quality over the years. Now, Memorial Day is more about sales at the mall, fighting traffic to go somewhere for a long weekend and, quite frankly, we should be ashamed of ourselves as a nation. For the people who gave up so much for their nation and its people, to see what’s going on is tragic.”

Davel interjected some more praise to the people in attendance. He expressed gratitude for those who stood up when the National Anthem was being sung and for removing their hats, guidelines the United States recommends during a ceremony with an American flag where there is the Pledge of Allegiance, the anthem or other patriotic songs.

“We don’t see that all the time today,” Davel said. “We’re losing our soul as our nation, and we should be ashamed. If we look for the answers for why so many for so many years have fought for what we achieved and prospered like no one else on earth, it’s because here, in this land, we’ve unleashed the energy of the individual of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than any place.”

Davel concluded by pointing out people who claim there are no heroes in this country don’t know where to look.

Shawano County Board Chairman Tom Kautza also stressed the important of taking a few simple moments to remember that some who put on the uniform did not return home to their loved ones.

“They didn’t run. They didn’t hide when this country asked them to serve,” Kautza said. “In fact, many of them stepped forward on their own to help protect this country and its ideals of the American dream — the dream of freedom, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution — the fundamental ideas that this great country was founded on.”

Kautza pointed out that many in the audience were there with their children and grandchildren, an opportunity that those killed in the line of duty didn’t get.

“It should be Veterans Day and Memorial Day every day,” he said.