It was the Union dead in the Civil War who first seemed to prove that America was more than a mere idea. "Before the War our patriotism was a firework, a salute, a serenade for holidays and summer evenings," wrote essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1864. "Now the deaths of thousands and the determination of millions of men and women show that it is real." In our day, backyard barbecues are also fundamental to Memorial Day's building of national morale. Yes, it is absolutely critical to remember the fallen and the wars they died in. But, as the 19th century French scholar Ernest Renan argued, forgetting is "an essential factor in the creation of a nation." We also need to move beyond old divisions and the brutality of history. That, my fellow Americans, is where the barbecue and hot dogs come in.