Throughout the land, Memorial Dayrnis kept up by a group of institutionsrnthat are so much a part of the sceneryrnthat few people even notice them anyrnmore: primarily the veterans’ clubs, thernLegion, and the VFW, whose posts nationwiderndecorate veterans’ graves, providernbugle and rifle teams for veterans’rnfunerals, support Little League and SeniorrnLeague baseball and Softball teams,rnand tend guard over the traditions andrnrituals of life and death in America; thernflag, the graves, the bunting, the bugle.rnThese groups also give their membersrnnice places to gather, where they can eatrnand drink inexpensively. They also makernlow-cost insurance programs available,rnand, via their magazines, keep veteransrnapprised of issues of interest, as well as ofrnannual meetings of their erstwhile militaryrnunits. (For example, I thus joinedrnthe 4th Armored Division Association.)rnWhat’s nice about the Legion and thernVFW is that thev go on with their remembrancernand reflection whether thernwars are popular, like the recent PersianrnGulf conflict, or unpopular, like Korearnand Vietnam. For to them, remembrancernis about sacrifice, and sacrificernmeans just that, including sacrifice ofrnpopularity.rnhi the last analysis, however. Legionrnand VTW posts arc the mainstay notrnonly of warrior America, but also of allrnthe signs and symbols that touch allrnAmericans, sooner or later: taps; the callrnto the colors and retreat; pipe bandsrnplaying “Gary Owen;” yellow ribbons;rndecorated graves. They arc guardians ofrnthe symbols of the true America, even ifrnsome segments of our societ)’ fail to recognizernthis. For the truth is that in arnclutch, the traditions of the VFW andrnLegion posts have more to do with therncountry than do the traditions of showrnbusiness. How kitsch arc the Oscars,rnhow dignified is taps. It is the differencernbetween those who play soldiers,rnlike John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, andrnKevin Costner, and those who actuallyrnfought. Only in America are the formerrnhonored more than the latter.rnLater that night, m wife and I walkedrnout onto the Fort Pierce jetty, a stonestrewnrnfinger of land that extends aboutrnan eighth of a mile into the ocean at thernmouth of an inlet. The moon gleamedrnhigh above, as figures silently cast theirrnlines into water where schools of snookrnseemed to be gathering. Like Vero’srnMemorial Park, the Fort Pierce jettyrnis not a fancy place. Still, it has a certainrnattraction for men, women, andrnchildren of all ages, races, and incomernlevels, who gather there in a universalrnritual called fishing. Haitians, Cubans,rnPoles, WASPs, and God-knows-whatelsernare to be found there. All incomerngroups, yuppies and six-pack buyersrnalike.rnStrolling on the jetty that night I realizedrnwhat had been missing from thernMemorial Day service that morning: nornone had mentioned that the Cold War isrnover, that the bombers and rockets nornlonger are on alert, that the fleet is on arnpeacetime watch, that, for the hrst timernsince Pearl Harbor, the threat of war hasrnreceded. Bells should have been rungrnat the churches; Te Deums or “OnwardrnChristian Soldiers” or the “Battle Hymnrnof the Republic” ought to have beenrnsung; and thanks ought to have beenrnrendered that this danger to our Republicrnhas disappeared. Our nation is atrnpeace, our veterans are at peace, and ourrnfishermen can fish in peace.rnI recalled the graveyard at home withrnits veterans’ flags on Memorial Day,rnwhere neady half the graves still are decoratedrneach year, after a century of war;rnand I thought about all those whornfought or stood guard, all those whornwent to Flanders or Normandy orrnTarawa, all those who died near Panmunjomrnor Hue, all those who patrolledrnthe DMZs of the Cold War. And I concludedrnthat they had not sacrificed inrnvain. Peace had been achieved at last.rnWhatever would now come would bernnew, but the past had ended well.rnWhat had started at Sarajevo and hadrnspread to St. Petersburg and Berlin andrnacross the entire worid, as far as Hanoirnand Peking, had ended; and now, on thisrnMemorial Day, that infamous town itselfrnwas aflame, now at the end of therncentury, when peace was on hand.rnStrange the symmetry of it all.rnJames j . Novak is a writer who dividesrnhis time between Florida and New York.rnLIBERAL ARTSrnIMAGE ENHANCEMENT?rnRevisionism in the name of political correctness strikes again. According to thernChicago Tribune last January, Illinois State University is changing its 128-year-oldrnmotto from The Canterbury ‘Tales to purge it of alleged sexism. The phrase “And gladlyrnwould he learn and teach,” adopted by the state’s oldest public university in 1865,rnhas been replaced bv “Gladly we learn and teach.”rnNot quite as eloquent as the original motto (an Americanized version of GeoffreyrnChaucer’s 14th-century line), the new phrase is the result of an “image and identity”rnstudy that cost ISU $73,000. In an effort to develop fundraising strategies for the university,rnthe hrm of Downey, Weeks and Toomcy interviewed IsO students, parents,rnand alumni and concluded that there was a desire to make the universit motto nonscxist.rnLed by an English professor who argues that the Chaucer quotation was directedrnat the “Clerk of Oxenford,” a specific individual, a number of students protestedrnthe revision, but to no avail.rnAPRIL 1993/41rnrnrn