Memorial Day II

Today is Memorial Day in the USA. This is usually a long weekend filled with family and fun. I am at Lake Kiowa in Texas, a retirement community of about thousand homes. My Dad and sister live here. There is a lot of golf, fishing and endless clubs. This is a prototypical retirement community—most people are active. There are flags in front of most of the houses, there is apparently a cottage industry that will put up and take down your flag on special occasions like this weekend, election days and so forth.
Memorial Day is about remembering the sacrifices of our countrymen and women in past wars—it is all about patriotism and not forgetting that every American must do their part to sustain our democratic freedoms. As I listen to folks talking, however, there are no conversations about this or about much of anything other than reminences about last week’s golf games or past adventures or what is so-in-so doing these days. I grant that my sample is small, mostly backyard patio chitchat with family and friends, but what has happened to deep conversations about world events and today’s challenges?
I enjoy time with my father and sister, but wonder if I could or would want to be in this or any ‘retirement community’. It appears that most people in this environment are disconnected observers—spectators exchanging opinions. I asked if any of the community clubs were concerned with the environment, the war on terrorism, poverty, intergenerational dialogue or contemporary culture. The uniform response was that while all of these topics were of interest there was little conversation about them and nothing in terms of organized  participation to do anything. One older gentleman did go on for 10 or 15 minutes about how no one listens to people "our age" anyway.
All of this to say that while Memorial Day is and should be about honoring the past and the sacrifices of our elder generation (both living and deceased), we should also take stock of where we stand in the present and use this kind of symbolic occasion to declare ourselves in relationship to the future.