Perhaps I have just not noticed in years past. But the past week is the first time I recall hearing radio people say, happy Memorial Day! It struck me as somewhat odd to think about this holiday in the same light as a happy new year or, particularly, happy Halloween. My feeling is not because I don’t appreciate the holiday, but rather because I do, more and more with each year crossed off my life’s calendar.

Perhaps I have just not noticed in years past. But the past week is the first time I recall hearing radio people say, happy Memorial Day! It struck me as somewhat odd to think about this holiday in the same light as a happy new year or, particularly, happy Halloween. My feeling is not because I don’t appreciate the holiday, but rather because I do, more and more with each year crossed off my life’s calendar.

We are called upon to honor especially those who have given their lives in service to our great nation. We also use it as a time to reflect upon the legacy of our parents, grandparents and all those who have come before.

All such thoughts give me a deeper sense of gratitude to those individuals as well as the great God I believe created them and enabled them to walk their often difficult paths in this physical life. I suppose I would admit that reflection makes me happy, but the term seems rather cheap. Happiness is so often only circumstantial, more determined by my last meal, the weather, whether or not I am hitting the traffic lights just right.

I have nothing against happiness. But happiness has been elevated to a position in our culture of far too much importance. It has descended into, If it feels good, do it! Among important values in life, this tail now wags the whole dog, overshadowing commitment, sacrifice, integrity and the like.

Since World War II, we have pursued happiness in the sense of Feel Good with a vengeance. Our baby boomer  generation demanded happiness and personal fulfillment from parents who had been forced to fight with their very lives to defeat evil world dominators upon the heels of depression times incredibly tough in comparison to ours.

If we didn’t like the rules, we flouted them or protested them. If we are not happy, it must be someone else’s fault. If married, it is probably our spouse’s fault and we need a divorce. Or perhaps raising children is too difficult and messy, so we abandon our children, if they were fortunate enough to be born in the first place.

We face incredibly daunting challenges now. Our national financial problems are merely a natural outgrowth of the excesses of our national lifestyle. Built up over decades, they will require decades of wiser lifestyle to conquer. But do we have the will and wisdom to return to the values necessary to accomplish such a victory?

Later this year, we will have an opportunity to change the direction of our federal government. While I believe that change is essential, it is not even our primary need.

The rest of the story, the most important part, is that our present problems are individual, social, cultural and spiritual for the most part. Government does not cause them directly and cannot directly cure them.

Children are hungry for food and love because we value getting high or drunk or being happily free to do whatever we please instead of being committed, sacrificial and responsible. We value our cell phones more than having a roof over our heads and a nutritious meal on the table.

Will my grandchildren be thankful for me in 50 years? Or was I just a blip on a timeline in which a great nation went down the drain from collective individual rot? As for me, I prefer true lasting joy to temporary happiness. I pray God will enable me to live it out.