Institute News

Memorial Day Remembering Those Who Have Fallen (and an Interview with Nevin)

Posted By May 29, 2024 No Comments

…the value of a place to stand, which was hardly questioned until the present….


(Originally published on doubleplus ungoodthinkful, republished with permission.)

Americans who found a place to stand and died for their country are remembered today. Richard M. Weaver, commenting on modernity’s “attack on memory,” said that cultural life “depends upon the remembrance of acknowledged values, and for this reason any sign of a prejudice against memory is a signal of danger.”[i]

Amnesia, noted Weaver, also signals a loss of identity. That, indeed, is what we suffer from. It is no wonder, then, that the narcissism which afflicts us is categorized as an identity disorder. The same can be said for those who have forgotten they are men, or women, or human beings. They have lost their sexual identity as well as their sense of national identity. Weaver noted, “When we realize the extent to which one’s memory is oneself, we are made to wonder whether there is not some element of suicidal impulse in this mood, or at least an impulse of self-hatred.”[ii]

There is, today, a school of self-hating Americans. It includes those who memorialized George Floyd this weekend. Floyd’s death in police custody was used to excuse a summer of rioting, arson, and looting. Meanwhile, our supposedly “racist” justice system ultimately convicted four police officers in relation to Floyd’s death. While racism is a reality, Floyd was a drug addict and violent criminal whose death was tragic; yet his was not the death of a law-abiding citizen. It is troubling, then, that Floyd became a symbol for those socialist and communist revolutionaries who pretend to seek equality in a cynical “divide-and-conquer” game of pitting black and white against each other. Their false belief in the radical homogenization of all classes, sexes, and races contradicts the very diversity they pretend to celebrate.

Our survival as a nation depends on “carrying the past into the present through the power of memory.”[iii] What matters, then, is what we remember and who we celebrate. Here we should not depend on tragic events recast to provoke riots. Instead we should look back to a process of pulling together against a common enemy. From this we have built our national identity out of all classes of people who call themselves Americans. And this is something our fallen heroes have underscored for us, more than we realize. If we deny who they were and what they fought for, we deny our own nationhood. Amnesia becomes, in this situation, an instrument of national self-murder.

According to Weaver., “To be human is to live in two tenses, the past and the future, both of which require for their construction the mind and therefore the memory.”[iv] And so, the call is for us to think and to remember, on this day more than other days.


[i] Richard M. Weaver, Visions of Order (USA: ISI, 1964), p. 40.

[ii] Ibid, p. 41.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid, pp. 41-42.