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Tag: liberty

This is a photo of the United States flag, flying in a strong breeze from a flagpole.

Gratefully remembering

The Artdog Quotes of the Week for Memorial Day 2019

Sometimes it’s hard to gratefully remember important things. Such remembering requires that one stop and take stock. Such gratitude requires a certain humility, and acknowledging that there are more important things than oneself.

This image shows an American flag in the breeze with a blue sky behind it. Above it are the words "Memorial Day," and below it are the words "Remember and Honor."

Sometimes it’s hard to feel anything but overwhelmed. This month has been fraught and frantic for me. Two different family members suffered life-threatening illnesses. I’ve spent a lot of hours chatting with tech support personnel about hitches and glitches that came with the relocation of this website to its own dedicated server.

May also was a twoconvention month. And all the pressures, deadlines, and preparation required to kick off another summer’s book-and-art tour tend to cluster at the beginning. When else?

The words, "Greatness is not what you have, it's what you give. To those who gave their all: We thank you. Memorial Day." are superimposed over a red, white, and blue pinwheel pattern patchwork quilt, with the attribution Bonnie K. Hunter, Quiltville.com.

But remembering–and remembering gratefully–is important. It’s a vital piece of how we understand ourselves in relation to our world, our community, and our relationships. It’s so important that we’ve set aside a day for it.

The background of this image is dominated by the color yellow, which makes the background of photos and an old-fashioned pocket-watch take on an almost red-violet color in the darker areas. White letters superimposed over the photo say "Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things," which is a quote from Arthur Schopenhauer.

It’s not just a day for picnics (weather permitting), or family gatherings, or swimming pool openings, or barbeque, or even decorating graves, fireworks, concerts, and marching in parades–although we associate all of those things with Memorial Day. It’s a day for remembering that without costly sacrifices we might have none of the freedoms we enjoy.

Those open-air concerts, those parades, those delicious meals, might never be possible if we did not live in freedom and peace. Those beloved family members might be scattered or lost. The brave defenders of our liberty, the ones whom we remember on Memorial Day, live within us when we enjoy our freedoms–but also remember that freedom doesn’t come for free.

The background photo of this image of two people's hands clasped is shifted to a turquoise-blue hue. The darker details in the photo are blue-violet. Over the image, white letters read "Death ends a life, not a relationship." it's a quote from Mitch Albom.

We have a bond of love and honor, an important relationship with those fallen ones who paid so dearly for the things we enjoy. It is our own honor–not theirs–that we stain and trample and besmirch when we forget.

Let us never forget them. But also . . .

Superimposed across the background of part of an American flag are two inset images from military cemeteries with their rows of white gravestones, and the words, "To those who courageously gave their lives . . . and those who bravely fight today . . . Thank You."

Let us likewise never forget the importance of the principles they stood for: freedom and human dignity, opportunity for all; balanced government; respect for the rule of law, but also respect for the people whose well-being those laws are supposed to protect.

Let us remember the whole Constitution, not just our favorite parts. Let us remember the sacred importance of treaties. Let us remember that no matter what we look like, or what our spiritual beliefs (including the lack thereof), or where we came from, or how recently, we all have a stake in the experiment that is our country.

And that every generation inherits the obligation to honor those concepts and that unity-in-diversity that has brought this nation to such vibrant life, if we are truly to honor their sacrifice.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to News of Mill Creek and the City of Edmonds, WA, for the “Memorial Day Remember and Honor” image; to Bonnie K. Hunter and her Quiltville.com website, via Memorial Day Image.com , for the quilt-backed expression of Memorial Day’s purpose; to Funeral One, for the illustrated Schopenhauer and Albom quotes; and again to Memorial Day Image.com, for the closing “Thank You” image. Thanks also to LaRue Tactical, for the Featured Image U.S. Flag photo.

Liberty: Mission NOT yet accomplished

Artdog Quote of the Week: 


In case you were wondering, John F. Kennedy said this in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961. He was speaking to the world, during the Cold War with the then-Soviet Union, and he had human rights all over the world–particularly in impoverished countries elsewhere–on his mind when he said it. 


I’m not sure he gave as much thought to the poor of the United States when he addressed “those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery.” But we had our own share of huts, villages, and the urban equivalent when he addressed the nation that day.

Kennedy didn’t need to look beyond our own shores for people “struggling to break the bonds of misery.” This Appalachian man’s rural Kentucky community had lost most of its jobs by the time John Dominis took this photo in 1964.
Urban poverty in Harlem, New York: the Fontenelle Family, outside their home in 1967, as photographed by the legendary Gordon Parks.

When you speak stirring words, people everywhere may challenge you to live up to them. What we now know as the Civil Rights Movement and the Feminist Movement already had begun to stir before this speech, but they grew in impetus during the decade that followed this speech. 


Unfortunately, the work of neither movement is anywhere near being finished yet.


Later in his speech Kennedy proclaimed “a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself,” and at the end he challenged his countrymen to “ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” 

Long-term poverty persists in Appalachia, despite 50 years having passed since the “War on Poverty” was declared in 1964 (in another Inaugural Address, this one from Lyndon B. Johnson).

I would submit to you that the work Kennedy laid out for us is as much needed as ever, and nowhere near finished. Not even right here in our own back yards. 

Not as much has changed on those fronts since 1960 as we’d like to wish, and while the problems grew worse for many in 2008, they have been far more deeply entrenched, for far longer. There’s never yet been a golden era when poverty was eradicated for everyone.

Homelessness among the urban poor grew worse when the psychiatric hospitals began discharging many of their patients in the 1970s and 1980s. It got another boost during the Great Recession that began in 2008.

And it seems to me that a greater sense of civic duty among all of us, directed at making our communities safer and more healthy for ALL of us, would go a long way toward preparing us for our country’s greatness in the future. 


Liberty for all is an ideal, a goal–but never a destination. We can never stop and say, “okay, that’s done.” Now: do I mean to say that freedom from poverty equals liberty? No, not at all. But it’s only when people find ways to ease the desperate burden of poverty that they can begin to find ways to live up to their truest potential and be their best selves. Once they can do that, they can begin to participate in the joys of liberty.Without those base-line necessities, the rights, privileges and duties of liberty can seem a distant, impossible dream.


IMAGES: Many thanks to Quoteszilla, via the Quote Addicts “Patriotic Sayings and Quotes” page, for this image. Thanks also are due to the UK Daily Mail, for the photo of the Appalachian man (photographed in 1964 by John Dominis for LIFE Magazine) and the Harlem family (photographed in 1967 by Gordon Parks), to the Turkish Daily Sabah for the photo of the homeless US veteran (photographer unattributed), and to the New York Times for the photo of Ms. Short and her dog in West Virginia (photo by Travis Dove).

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