EDITORIAL: Set politics aside for a higher cause

Published 8:01 am Sunday, June 5, 2016

Memorial Day is a day to honor American soldiers, particularly the men and women who died serving in the armed forces.

That’s why we were disappointed when a Memorial Day speaker in Austin spent more time voicing political views than speaking about veterans and their sacrifice.

A featured speaker spent the bulk of a speech talking on how America needs to move past the need to be politically correct, tying the argument loosely to veterans by speaking against calls to remove a Civil War memorials, particularly Confederate memorials.

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“Let’s stop this PC [politically correct] movement. We need to be Americans again,” the speaker said.

There’s nothing wrong with such an opinion, and people can choose to agree or disagree with the sentiment. After all, the soldiers we honor on Memorial Day died fighting to secure such freedoms as the free exchange of ideas.

But that doesn’t mean a Memorial Day ceremony is the proper place to voice such opinions. In fact, we believe it’s the wrong time and place for such discourse and discussion.

The speaker finished with a few words about how there are fewer World War II veterans with many passing over time, as he added how it’s important for young people to know about “the greatest generation.” A greater focus on their sacrifice, especially since several young people were present, would have been welcome. With the Austin High School band and many Boy Scouts in attendance, a prime educational opportunity was missed. It would have served as a perfect and proper time to tell them more stories of those World War II veterans.

We all hold different opinions, and the right to express such opinions is one the greatest things about our country. That’s why the men and women who died to secure and maintain such freedoms deserve better. They deserve at least a few moments when we can come together and put our views aside to honor their sacrifice. We owe it to veterans to unify under the common cause of thanking them for their service and sacrifice, whether they are alive to celebrate with us or gave the ultimate sacrifice.

In future years, we call on people to leave politics at home for one day — or even a few hours. After all, we have 364 other days in the year and countless other platforms to voice our political opinions.