Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day - Freedom of Religion in Public

Memorial Day in Chatham, MA (on the "elbow" of Cape Cod) is celebrated the old-fashioned way. Today, we joined hundreds of people walking behind and alongside the colors as the parade made its way from the WWI memorial to Veteran's Circle to the Navy memorial to the Korea-Vietnam memorial to the Civil War memorial and back to Veteran's Circle. [Click above image for a larger view].

At each stop, there were prayers and talks and songs, all invoking the name of God. In the above photo, the man in black in front of the colors is a clergyman reciting his prayer at the Navy memorial. Songs included God Bless America and America the Beautiful "God shed His grace on thee". An orator spoke Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, using the version that includes "this nation, under God."

As I enjoyed the moving spectacle, I thought about John's Topic on Constitutional Change, allowing local jurisdictions to establish an official religion within their borders. John, IMHO, is rightly concerned that that the First Amendment phrase "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ..." has been misused to prevent public display of religious symbols and speech. However, I remain convinced that the remainder of that text, "...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" is sufficient to protect our right to use public property for the free exercise of our religious beliefs.

Massachusetts is the bastion of left-wing government, yet, even here, people are still free to express their religious beliefs in a publicly-sanctioned event. I am sure Chatham is not the only town to do so. Indeed, any town that does not have a similar celebration would be the exception.

Ira Glickstein

PS: Vi and I are in Chatham for a week along with some members of my NY bicycle club. Nine of us rent a cottage in this picturesque town every year and we enjoy bicycling, kayaking, eating - and a traditional Memorial Day celebration.

1 comment:

JohnS said...

I hope you are right about freedom or religion. I'm concerned. I am also concerned about a complacent America. Our local group put up flags in front of every home in our area including snowbird homes. It was inspiring. I also drove around The Villages twice yesterday and was surprised about the number of homes without flags or other displays; probably many of the homes without displays were snowbirds or were not home. Still, I wonder if we are too complacent.
PS, Ira, I am something of an email gateway for the people in my area including the snowbirds. The group I email is some 80 plus recipients. You have written a number of blogs about global warming and alternate energy etc that I find very interesting. I would like to send them a condensed version of your postings. Would you be willing to write one? Most of the people are fine people and we might find a commenter or two amongst them.