Opinion editor's note: The following editorial is reprinted from the May 30, 1946, issue of the Minneapolis Daily Times, a newspaper that played a key role in the evolution of what would one day become the Star Tribune under the ownership of the Cowles family.
Today the nation observes another Memorial Day, and Minneapolis joins it in tributes to America's war dead.
But something more than formal tributes is involved, if the true spirit of the day is to find deep roots within us.
Memorial Day is obviously not a period of 24 hours in which we can adequately honor those who died in war by conjuring up brass band memories of their deeds and deaths. Nor do parades, speeches and easy tears suffice.
We cannot convey sufficient honor simply by reiterating old miseries or speaking ancient platitudes. The honor of the patriot dead is secure. It is the honor of the living — and their good faith — that remains to be demonstrated.
Our honor — our integrity, our worth, our justification in spending these men's lives for our survival — can only be proved through the fulfillment of those pledges with which we reluctantly sent them to their death.
This is not a task that can be achieved within a day. It is not accomplished by a few solemn ceremonials. Rather it is a continuing task which demands our everlasting vigilance, and a constant hewing to the line of war-born purpose.
There are signs today that we are forgetting our pledges too quickly. We dedicated our strength to a robust policy of world leadership on behalf of a peace and order that endures. Yet we have been singularly slow to accord the United Nations organization a home; we fall short of our UNRRA obligations; we hesitate to maintain the armed strength needed to fulfill our occupation commitments; and even now we hear the voices of isolationism repeating their false counsels of despair.
We set lofty goals of reconverted economy in which the returning veteran shall thrive and prosper and find new freedom and security. Yet disruptive quarrels set group against group, and selfish interests gravely complicate the economic tasks that cry for swift accomplishment.
We have said that all citizens should share equally in the rights and privileges of our American democracy, on behalf of which more than 300,000 men of all races, creeds and colors died in World War II; yet we see a resurgence of old prejudices and intolerances, and even the bigots of the Ku Klux Klan are on the march again.
Memorial Day is a good day to measure the gap between past purpose and present achievement, and to rededicate ourselves to the goals of peace and ordered liberty for which our war dead gave their lives.
When we sent men out to preserve this nation and guarantee its security and freedom, we paid a price. With their lives we bought liberty — and a new chance to join with other nations in establishing the foundations of an ordered world.
We shall indeed do ourselves dishonor if we are now too lazy, too complacent or too short-sighted to make secure and safe those decent goals for which this precious price was paid.