If you can take a few minutes this weekend, stop in a cemetery. Let the little American flags on some graves be your guide.
The veterans lying under the green, green grass may have died in old age. Or perhaps they gave, as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, the "last full measure of devotion."
It's a lot to give, and for the living, Memorial Day is the day we have dedicated to contemplating just how much that is.
Those of us fortunate to have not lost parents, children, siblings or dear friends in war can't help but think of the fallen men and women in an abstract sense; for the families and friends who know all too well the pain of loss there is nothing abstract about it.
Where we unite is in admiration. We are grateful to the men and women, from today down through the ages, who sacrificed their lives to free the nation from colonization, prevent a permanent division, north and south, and destroy the Third Reich, among a multitude of conflicts.
But Lincoln's brief speech at Gettysburg didn't just call on a nation to mourn its war dead. "It is for us the living ... to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced," he said. "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us."
Lincoln was, of course, talking about the Civil War, which would slog on for another year and a half after the November 1863 dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg.
But the great task he spoke of was bigger than merely winning the war -- it was nothing short of full human equality for all Americans. For Lincoln, winning the war would have been only the beginning.
Memorial Day is a good day for us to think about our own responsibilities as Americans and the "great task" still in front of us.
Thankfully, far fewer of us today are required to give that "last full measure," but none of us are off the hook when it comes to donating some part of ourselves to the greater good. It's the covenant we, the living, have with the valiant dead.
So, on this Memorial Day, volunteer your talents, drop some change into the bucket, go out of your way to seek out a veteran to say "thanks." Do something -- anything -- that makes you part of the solution.