When Wall Street shuts down for an extra day, it’s usually a good moment to unplug from the endless noise and reflect on what really matters. Memorial Day is no exception. As you know, as a Gold Star widow, this is not just an abstract three-day weekend for me.
Memorial Day is when we remember those who gave their lives to preserve the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, our freedoms, the promise of economic as well as political independence and everything else that gets bundled into “the American Way.” The dream is never perfectly achieved but they died so we can keep working in the right direction as the words written on the Statue of Liberty and the Lincoln Memorial.
They died so the dream could live. That dream built great cities, covered a continent with railroads and highways while keeping vast wilderness in trust for future generations. The dreamers developed cars and telephones, motion pictures and computers, the Internet, the twentieth century. They’re still inventing.
In the process, they built the greatest corporations in history, the greatest economy in history . . . not just one company big enough to strut across the global stage but literally dozens worth hundreds of billions of dollars individually and several moving up into the trillion-dollar zone. The mere fact that the world evaluates corporate scale in terms of dollars speaks to the power of the innovation and the courage that drive the dream.
And it hasn’t been easy. All of the sacrifice and a lot of the ingenuity were required because we’ve faced our share of conflict. But whether we fight each other or foreign bullies, we’ve usually won and always came out of the experience smarter, tougher and more resourceful than ever. Always.
After every war, social upheaval, existential crisis or economic shock, we’ve come back better. Every single time. We’ve beaten inflation before. Previous generations found ways through recessions that would terrify today’s Fed governors. Banks fall and rise again. Wealth cycles around.
Americans live our lives and dream of a better future. Sometimes we’re called to give up our lives for that future. That’s what Memorial Day is all about for me. We remember the sacrifice and work as hard and as smart to make sure that they didn’t throw their lives away.
Whatever the crisis of the moment happens to be, we’ve proved that we can innovate around every wall of worry that history can raise between us and that ultimate American Dream. Or if we can’t go around, we’ll push through.
You can see that in the lives of everyday Americans, doing the best we can to make it to that better tomorrow. Working. Fighting. Dreaming. Building. You can see it in the stock market if you lift your eyes just a little from where we are today.
A year or two from now, all of today’s threats will be behind us and rapidly receding in the rear view. If you don’t believe that . . . if you think “this time” is “different” because the challenges facing us now are somehow bigger than all the world wars and we aren’t up to facing them . . . then I just have to ask: what’s changed? Why did the nation that always found a way suddenly fail?
Because I haven’t found anyone willing to look me in the eye and tell me the American Way has failed in my lifetime. Come on. We’ve got this. And all those generations who sacrificed to get us here did not die in vain.