For Memorial Day: Some Thoughts about Duty

“Men who died in America’s wars fell doing their duty. It is necessary now for us to know our duty ... For each of us, I am sure, if asked to express his thoughts, would have different words. Yet, no matter the words or the approach, the world is full of people, place, problems -- all calling upon us -- the living -- to do our duty. There is starvation and hunger on every continent. There is disease. There is also social and economic inequality of vast magnitude. But, fortunately, there is action against all these conditions, these social-economic rituals that bind and suffocate the spirit of man -- and this is where we ... can find a call to front-line action.”
Sargent Shriver |Suresnes, France| May 30, 1968

With Our Quote of the Week, we share a 1968 Memorial-Day reflection from Sargent Shriver’s time as US Ambassador to France. Shriver begins his
Remarks at Suresnes American Military Cemetery and Memorial with these words, turning quickly from the duty of soldiers to the duty we all share towards our fellow human beings.

For Sargent Shriver, by caring for the living and ensuring that all could live lives free from poverty, hunger, disease, oppression, we would not only be “doing our duty"; we would be bringing the world closer to peace. In other words, our duty would prevent future soldiers from having to make the ultimate sacrifice: their lives. “The soldiers we honor here,” stresses Shriver, “will indeed have died in vain if we cannot create the conditions that will bring men, young and old, into society’s fabric.”

As we mark Memorial Day weekend, let us honor the soldiers we have lost by recognizing our roles as citizens, by finding ways to create the conditions for a more peaceful world.

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Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.
Sargent Shriver
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