A Memorial Day Post

American Military Cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands. May 27, 2012.

It’s a beautiful Memorial Day weekend, marked at the American Military Cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands by American and Dutch flags on the graves.  There are many visitors, almost all Dutch, on this solemn occasion, with the only Americans apparently us and the U.S. military personnel here for the occasion. 

The site brought to mind the commonality of culture and purpose that prevailed in America during World War II, and that many Americans seemed to feel again after 9/11.  The role of a common culture and mutual trust in facilitating the operation of markets by lowering transaction costs cannot be overestimated. Their effect on the civility of political discourse is also crucial.  It’s sad that we moved away so rapidly from that commonality so quickly after 9/11.

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COMMENTS: 4


  1. BL1Y says:

    Commonality, suppression of dissent. Po-tay-toh, po-tah-toh.

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  2. Griff says:

    You didn’t mention that all of the US graves in Margraten have been adopted by Dutch citizens.

    This blog post explains the background to that and the story of one Dutchman who has adopted a grave.

    http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2009/06/us-soldiers-interred-around-the-world/

    The people of Europe have not forgotten those who helped liberate Europe in 1944/5.

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  3. Paul says:

    Two great points are touched on in Daniel’s short post:

    First is that truly, the everyday citizen’s of Europe (at least those over 40) have not forgotten the sacrifice of a far away country to deliver them from the grip of evil. My mother traveled in Europe only last year and was frequently approached by people who recognized here as an older American to thank her for America’s action in WWII.

    Second is the importance of the “commonality of culture” as the binding glue that is needed in our society (and in every society). Truly, when we dilute out common culture with “multi-culturalism” we break down the ties that bind us together as a nation. Germany/Merkel has recently admitted that their several decades long attempt at multi-culturaism is a failure. It only produces smaller groups that are alienated from each other. As a nation of immigrants it is difficult, and it is a balancing act to ensure that our first and foremost culture is in the American ideal. I am a second generation American with family roots in Ireland and Italy, but I do not identify myself as Irish American, or Italian American. I am an American. “E Pluribus Unum” has if right. “From Many, One”. and so we must be One. One culture, embracing of all our Backgrounds, but traveling together to a common future and remaining the best place in the world to live.

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  4. steve cebalt says:

    First, a great post for Memorial Day.

    It is stunning how short people’s memories are, and how quickly we lost that sense of community after 9/11. Unlike previous generations, our military is outsourced to an incredibly small percentage of the population. Many young people do not even know of a soldier or veteran. So we take our freedoms for granted.

    The result? The current “furor” over the abstract notion of “privacy” that was flamed by the leak of NSA use of metadata. This has been public knowledge at least since 2006; I cannot figure out why it being considered news. But the larger issue is putting a very abstract concept of “privacy” over security. Not one person has come forth and said their privacy has been violated by the NSA use of phone records to try to identify patterns that point to terrorism. All this handwringing just 12 years after 9/11 and a few months since the Boston bombings. where surveillance cameras (certainly an invasion of privacy) were they key to preventing the two bombers from repeating their terror. We worry about NSA use of phone records that they get from Verizon, or Internet data from Facebook; but why do we not worry about those companies having those records?

    I do no think we should put security before liberty. I am a veteran and old enough that 6 uncles and my Dad fought in WWII.

    You comment on the loss of a sense of community made me think of current events, and I apologize for the tangent, but I think it relates. Because it points out that when we forget that we live in a dangerous world full of people who hate and want to kill us, we are all in it together, and defense requires vigilance and a sense of shared responsibility.

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