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Friday, May 30, 2008

On Memorial Day c. 1908

Memorial Day 1908 was celebrated on Saturday May 30 (I suppose the labor movement had not yet lobbied for the National holiday). An editorial in the May 30, 1908 NYT shows two things: a) for statists, the 100 years war continues (indeed, with a few victories), and b) how far the editorial page of the New York Times has moved in the past 100 years:

To-day, by National agreement, we remember the dead who gave their lives for the preservation of the Republic and its Constitution, its just laws for every man, the liberty it insures to all alike. Most of the people of this broad land believe that its Government is the wisest and best ever established by man, its institutions the safest. From time to time they may develop obvious defects which must be judiciously corrected; there is nothing perfect in the works of man. But the country since the beginning has been one providing the best chance to the honest, sensible human being to develop body, mind, and soul; a country worth dying for.

A small but vociferous number of our fellow-citizens, scattered in all parts of the country, seem bent on its destruction. They are trying to change it into a huge Socialistic community, in which the chances of individual development shall be restricted, and industry and talent hampered. They demand, insanely, the demolition of the Government, and the substitution for it of a vaguely constituted paternal machine which shall support the incompetent and lazy at the expense of the competent and industrious. They clamor for State insurance against unemployment, accident, and the diseases incidental to old age. They demand the abolition of private ownership in productive property.

If they could have their way the Republic would be destroyed and a tyrannical form of government, with an imperator or dictator at the head, eventually established. That i the lesson of history. Of course, they will not have their way, but they are doing much to unsettle the minds of the young, to stir up the discontented, to check progress. It is well to bear in mind, in to-day's ceremonies, what they are striving to accomplished.

The blood that was shed for the preservation of the Union would be shed in vain would be shed in vain in independence and the right of every man to make his way in the world, so long as he respects his neighbor's rights, were denied under the Stars and Stripes. The heroes of the Union fought and died for the Republic as it is. The people who are crying out for the abolition of the Supreme Court, and of the President's veto power, and the other safeguards of the Nation, can have no sympathy with today's exercises, and no tender regrets for the sacrifices of our National heroes.

Wow!! If there were more editorials like this, I might actually read contemporaneous newspapers. It is a shame that both major parties seem content going down the road many seem to have found troubling 100 years ago.

Cross-posted at Division of Labour

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