Today is Memorial Day. In our headlong rush towards long weekends many Americans have forgotten that today is the day on which we recall those who have died in war, particularly those who died in the American Civil War and among those particularly the Union dead. The holiday has its origins in the decoration of the graves of Union soldiers in the years following the war, hence its original name: Decoration Day.

More Americans died in the American Civil War than in all of our other wars combined and that bears remembering.

I wish that the movie channels would show All Quiet on the Western Front, La Grande Illusion, or Platoon rather than D-Day or The Dirty Dozen.

I’ve told the story before but it bears repeating. My wife and I saw Saving Private Ryan in the theater in a matinee during the week. We were the youngest by far in the small audience—most of the people there were in their 70s and 80s. I will never forget that after the picture had ended you could still hear the quiet weeping of the World War II veterans and their wives in attendance. They remembered.

Originally published at The Glittering Eye