Sunday, May 29, 2005

Remembering Our Fallen Heroes and Heroines

Today is a traditional day for barbecues, watching auto racing, playing baseball or golf, or for just doing nothing. And perhaps it is most fitting that we enjoy these things on this day of all days, because recreation is a natural expression of our personal freedom in this nation. We do these things because we can. And on this day, we also remember and honor the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives that we would be able to enjoy these things without fear. We do not have to show our documents to get to the lake; we do not have to worry about whether or not a suicide bomber will strike at the ballpark. We can drive to Aunt Mary's house without having to worry about roadside bombs. Someone paid for that freedom with his or her own blood.

My reader may or may not agree with where our military happens to be today, or who the Commander in Chief happens to be. Some readers may not entertain a particular fondness for the Armed Forces or the ultimate lethality of their work. Some readers may even harbor utter hatred for all things military. And speaking for myself, and as a former serviceman, that's okay. These fallen ones did not take up arms in order to gain our approval. They saw freedom as something greater than themselves, regardless of how their service may have been valued- or forgotten- by those who stayed behind and reaped the benefits won by those who stepped forward.

I am former Paratrooper in the United States Army, and served on Grenada. My father flew over Vietnam. My uncles served in the Armed Forces as well, as did my grandfather. I have relatives who served at Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, the Normandy invasion, and throughout the marches across the Pacific and Europe. We served not because of the 3 hots and a cot, or the college assistance, or the job security. We did not join for the public adulation or the snappy uniforms. We served simply because we wanted to serve, and that's all. We loved our country, and that was reason enough.

I dedicate this day's consumption of bandwidth to those who did not come back while I did. To those who have loved ones in the Armed Forces today, I salute you and pray for their safe return home. To those who have lost loved ones in the fight for freedom, I offer you my most sincere and humble gratitude, and prayers for God's peace to comfort you in your sorrow.

With regard to the courage and dedication of all who now serve and who have served before, I can only echo the succinct comment of Admiral Chester Nimitz regarding the thousands of Marines who died on Iwo Jima:

"...uncommon valor was a common virtue"

Thank all of you- sailors, soldiers, marines, airmen, and coast guardsmen- for your willingess to lay it on the line for us. God bless you and keep you, and bring you safely home.