Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Unkown Soldier

Yesterday was Memorial Day in the US where we pay special respect to all those who have given their lives while in military service. I started putting together a post on Saturday, updated it on Sunday and scrapped it Monday, Memorial Day, to start over. I can just never get my thoughts down in a concise and complete way about this holiday. I have no problem on Veterans Day. For many years I have sat down at the keyboard and banged out an email to many of the vets I know thanking them for their service and the sacrifice of those they lost. Late Monday night it has finally occurred to me why Memorial Day is so hard for me to write about.

I don't know a single person who lost their life in uniform. To the best of my knowledge there are no such people in my small family tree within the USA. To my knowledge I don't have any friends or close coworkers who lost an immediate family member while serving. While I love programs on the History Channel and Ollie North's program about the incredible bravery of such people they are still anonymous to me. I suspect I am not alone in this but that fact does not make the awe and respect to which I hold the fallen any easier to deal with.

On Memorial Day I honor not only the Unknown Soldiers under the Tomb in Arlington but all of those who died with them in defense of this country and everything it stands for. We honor them and their wives and children and parents and siblings whose sacrifice is the reason we have what we have. We are humbled by their bravery and renewed in the faith that this country must be special to have produced so many true heroes in its short history. We are grounded in the fact that to keep this country free and special more will have to make that ultimate sacrifice. History tells us this sad fact. But we are also confident that a country that produces so many brave men and women who re-enlist for the purpose of going back to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight and maybe to die and be honored next Memorial day has not yet lost what made her in the first place. Honor.

To all of you out there who are the anonymous-to-me families of the fallen I say this. Thank you for the sacrifice and bravery of your loved one and the personal loss that followed. They are the reason this country is great and are not responsible for the shortcomings of the nation they died to protect. They, and you, are the brave that this nation is home to. May God bless them and you.

To all of you who have family in harms way today I hope they return safe and sound. While I hold the fallen in the highest regard it is a price that no one should have to pay and my undying respect is certainly not worth that ultimate sacrifice. I know they are willing to pay it but I think we have enough dead heroes for now. I am glad the congress finally approved the funding for the new V shaped armor on the vehicles they drive and hope it, and other advancements of technology and tactics, will save the lives of many of our brave fighting force so that next year we honor only those we honored this year. I know that hope is unrealistic but it is my prayer for this Memorial Day.

May all of the Unknown Soldiers rest in peace.


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