James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Judy Shepard’s ‘Remembrance Day’

Posted by James McPherson on November 11, 2011

“Remembrance Day” was another term for “Armistice Day,” commemorating the Nov. 11, 1918, cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I–the war some then called “the war to end all wars.”

Those folks were wrong, of course. We can’t seem to get enough of war, so Armistice Day–signifying the partial end of one in a long and unending series of wars–needed a new, more all-inclusive name. Veterans Day isn’t enough to close the stock market (perhaps you should invest in war stocks), but there will be a cool college basketball game on an aircraft carrier. How long before an announcer says a team or player “came out firing” or “dropped in a bomb,” do you suppose?

In the meantime,  yesterday was yet another “remembrance day” for Judy Shepard. She spoke to a big crowd at Whitworth University, sharing the story of her son, Matthew. He was beaten to death 13 years ago because he was gay.

Judy Shepard has been talking about “the meaning of Matthew” in person, on the web, and through her writing ever since. The fact that she was invited to speak here, and was so well received, made me proud yet again to be associated with such an enlightened Christian institution.

Though as a society we obviously have a long way to go, Shepard has seen changes in the treatment of gays–less fear in the eyes of her audiences, a country in which most Americans now support gay marriage, and of course the repeal of the ludicrous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The repeal means that today is the first Veterans Day in which openly gay service members can rightfully be honored for their sacrifices–including sacrifices that their heterosexual brothers and sisters in arms were never asked to make.

Perhaps one day we’ll live to see a day in which we don’t call upon our young people to die on our behalf, either at home or abroad. Now that would be an Armistice Day truly worth celebrating.

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3 Responses to “Judy Shepard’s ‘Remembrance Day’”

  1. Reuel said

    I join you in hoping that war will someday just be something read about in history. I do also remember when Matthew was beaten. That opened my eyes wider to the ugliness of the world we live in. So much hate and anger that lead to him being treated that way for his personal beliefs. Not a day I was proud of my fellow Americans. This is coming from a person that is not gay but agree that Matthews life choice was not harmful to others and should not of ever happened.

  2. James McPherson said

    Thanks, Reuel. I hope you had (or are having) a good trip and that all is well with the grandchild.

  3. Reuel said

    Still working this week, I shall be going to Florida for Turkey day. Yes the new grandson is doing well. looks like he will be just like Grandpa. Tall and slender.

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