By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) — It’s a shame they had to cancel the annual Memorial Day parade in Beverly, but the veterans I saw on the news were philosophical about it.

They said a march of any length is difficult for the older vets, while many of the younger ones are first responders now who have to work on the holiday.

The folks in Beverly hope to revive the parade next year, and I wish them well.

But their story is a cue for us to think about other ways the meaning of the day can be honored.

Listen To Jon’s Commentary

One idea would be to have a special curriculum about war for schoolkids in the days or weeks before Memorial Day that includes visits from or to veterans. (Maybe there are some schools that do this already; if so, please e-mail me here at the station and tell me more.)

Many cities, including four in Massachusetts, have experimented with the “One City One Book” idea where everyone reads the same book at the same time, and then talks about it.

There are many great books about war. Why couldn’t Memorial Day weekend be the kickoff point for that discussion?

I wouldn’t mind seeing our president and Congress commit to a televised summit meeting each year at this time where they have a serious talk about war. Maybe they could read the same book too.

Or at least have their staffers do it.

Going to war is one of the most serious decisions we make, and I don’t doubt that education about it and sober reflection on it should be a year-round priority.

But attention to the sacrifices of the more than 600,000 men and women we’ve lost to war over the past century adds a special context to that discussion. It reminds us of the human cost of war. And we need to always weigh that cost against whatever gain is being promised.

That’s one lasting way we can always honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

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