The Nation: Glory out of Tune

Memorial Day. Bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Connecticut Turnpike. California families flocking to Lake Tahoe. S.M.U. and Texas University graduates pouring across the causeways into Galveston. Memorial Day: a three-day nationwide hootenanny that seems to have lost much of its original purpose.

The custom of observing the day as a tribute to men fallen in battle was initiated by the women of Mobile, Ala., in 1865, and picked up by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Union in Washington, D.C., a year later. In cities large and small, the American Legion marched, trumpets blared tunes of...

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