Our National Moment Of Silence

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(Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio 1030)

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Did you realize that for the past 17 years, by an act of Congress, all Americans are encouraged to observe a moment of silence at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day to remember and reflect on our war dead?

It’s called the National Moment of Remembrance, and it was created in 2000 after polling showed less than a third of us knew what Memorial Day was about, and only 21% planned to even watch a parade.

The Moment, Congress wrote, was “needed to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble event that day is intended to be.”

It’s not that we don’t honor our military. They’ve been number one on the Gallup Poll’s list of most respected institutions for more than two decades. And the crowd reacts warmly at Fenway or the Garden when members of the armed forces are honored.

The polls show 40% of us confuse Memorial Day with Veterans Day, so that might be driving some indifference.

But here’s another thought: maybe many Americans just don’t feel comfortable with the topic of the toll of war?

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a poll showing widespread support for military engagements that would put large numbers of our people at risk. We seem to prefer lobbing missiles from a distance, or drone strikes, and no wonder.

Vietnam convinced a lot of us it just isn’t worth it, and unsurprisingly the younger generations don’t disagree.

In a way, the Moment of Remembrance may be a way of fostering that attitude.

What do you think of when you fall silent and remember the dead?

Their bravery, or the way they were before they were taken, absolutely.

But also the loss, the tragedy of it, the void they left behind.

No, Memorial Day is not a “happy” holiday.

But it is an important one.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. Listen to his previous podcasts on iHeartRadio. 

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Keller @ Large

Keller @ Large

Jon Keller is a WBZ TV & Radio political analyst. Read more

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