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Opinion | Roland Merullo

The patriotism of sacrifice

A wise society asks this of everyone, not just the poor and the brave

If Memorial Day is about anything, it’s about sacrifice. Originally conceived as a day on which to remember Americans who died in battle, the holiday memorializes those who risked every individual hope and joy for the sake of the greater good.

But in modern American society this sacrificial impulse has gone the way of the typewriter. If we look for the roots of this new selfishness — which often masquerades under the misapplied label “freedom” — we might find ourselves at the moment in 1973 when the draft was abolished. Isn’t the all-volunteer military another masquerade, a way of shifting a burden from the haves to the have-nots? We’ve come to accept this as fair, when, in fact, it’s part and parcel of a larger inequity.

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