I have a modest, or not so modest proposal, about Memorial Day. Actually, let’s follow Jonathan Swift and call it a modest proposal.
We're in the middle of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. At least temporarily, until 2015, let's turn the focus of Memorial Day back to what it was originally, eh? A day to honor, to be precise, not just Civil War dead, but UNION Civil War dead.
Maybe, in fact, we should continue that until the "Party of Lincoln" again lives up to that name.
And, it could start by boosting education (Lincoln and land-grant colleges), of course civil rights (not just the attempt to disenfranchise minorities, but, I’m sure that, gay myths about Lincoln aside, he would support gay rights were he alive today), and much more.
Besides education and civil rights for minorities and gays?
Had Lincoln lived out his second term, I think he would have done more, as the only president to hold a patent, to boost science and technology. I think he would have done more (per the tenor of his times, at least) for women’s rights. I also hope that his stance toward American Indians would have evolved.
At the least, Lincoln wouldn’t have been retrograde on these issues.
He also wouldn’t be antiunion. As one of the poorest men ever to become president, even though he had become fairly wealthy by 1860, he wouldn’t have had economic policies strongly favoring the rich.
But, back to Memorial Day and the Civil War itself. Lincoln definitely wouldn’t have let “states’ rights” become a shibboleth of HIS Republican Party. That would have meant that “these dead have died in vain.”
So, for the rest of today’s Memorial Day, and for the next three years, at least, that’s my “modest proposal.”
Oh, and after 2015, let's celebrate an honest sesquicentennial of Reconstruction, while we're at it.