From an editorial in the May 30, 1932, edition of the Minneapolis Tribune:
In that varied calendar of days, among which are numbered those anniversaries that we commemorate as a people, there is one which time has never entirely robbed of its significance. That day is Memorial Day.
True, it has endured many vicissitudes, and often it may have seemed that we had almost lost sight of its real significance. Yet there has always remained something fundamental about the aspirations which it arouses in the hearts and minds of most of us that has insured it a fixed place in our national idealism.
The Memorial Day of 1932 differs considerably from the one which was observed for the first time in May 1868. It was during that early period in its history that the day became inescapably connected with war and its processes, and it is doubtful whether the day would have survived to occupy the significance it does today if the idealism of 1868 alone had become affixed to it. Undoubtedly the World War and America’s participation in it has given new importance to our observance of the day.
New battlefields have been consecrated by sacrifice, and more patriot graves today bear witness to that bitter sacrifice which is war. The signs, clearly visible two decades ago, that Memorial Day might become lost in oblivion, are nowhere today visible. Will that be true a generation hence?
There have been times in the history of our country when Memorial Day has been almost wholly given over to the celebration of the glory of war. The whole transitory, and even questionable, nature of that glory has ill become what the finer idealism of men believes should be the essential spirit of Memorial Day.
In fact, the more closely Memorial Day is associated with the warlike spirit or with the deeds of any one conflict the less permanent its claim upon the enduring interests of men. It is inevitable that the closer the significance of the day attaches to the processes of war the more certainly will today’s fervor become tomorrow’s indifference.
There is, however, one fundamental aspiration that has survived from the first Memorial Day to the present one and that is the longing for peace which has never been at any time completely crushed out of the heart of mankind. That ideal may have been obscured but the closer our observance cleaves to the spirit of that ideal the more enduring will be the claim of the day upon our attention and the more worthy will be our commemoration of the sacrifice of the men to whose memory the day is dedicated. Today the claim of the peace ideal seems strong — it is our obligation to see that it is strengthened.
If that is not to be the case what is the meaning of these memorials? Are they only a military parade, a poppy worn at the buttonhole, or an architectural monument whose significance another generation will have completely forgotten? A nation’s debt to its heroes cannot be written off by such things as these, nor can that nation forget, without injury to itself, the sacrifice of even the humblest of these.
Seldom has the need for that security which only peace and equality of opportunity can bring presented as great a challenge, not only to America, but to the world, as it does today. Never was there more to be gained from the exercise of that spirit of liberalism on which understanding between peoples and nations is founded.
A Memorial Day which contains within the spirit of its observance these enduring ideals can never completely lose its hold upon the minds of men.