Memorial Day 2009

Today we honor our fallen warriors, Americans lost to battles past and those laid to rest in the passage of time. Their sacrifices are part of the reason we have the nation we have today.

Throughout history, people have served their nations for many reasons, sometimes honorable and noteworthy ones, sometimes not. While it is impossible to know for certain the reasons why Americans have served, I am willing to believe many of them did so simply because they were Americans, and that reason was enough.

From the hindsight of 15 years of military service, I have come to realize that many of the Americans I remember today served not because of some high-minded ideals of patriotism or liberty, but because they believed in something far more fundamental: the idea that it was possible to love one’s neighbor as much as oneself and that it was possible to be willing to die for that love.

I believe the Americans I remember today, in some way, came to the realization that these truths are self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. They realized that these ideals are not just some haughty words on an old piece of paper in Washington, but words that their family, friends, and fellow countrymen deserved to live by everyday.

The Americans I remember today did not serve because of government or political persuasion, but because of the people who mattered to them.

I think we could all learn a lesson from the Americans we remember today. Whatever we do in our lives, it is always about the people, never about the politics and the rhetoric. If we take that lesson to heart, then we have earned the legacy they fought and died for.


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2 Responses to Memorial Day 2009

  1. djhitz says:

    In honor of Memorial Day, 2009, I’d like to share this WWII, homecoming tale. I forget it’s source or its validity but this is purely for our, American, patriotic entertainment.
    A young, Marine lieutenant was sailing home on a large, naval vessel after the war. He had perched himself, safely on a rail along the gangplank of a promenade deck on the port side of this ship. In his hands, he clutched a war, souvenir. It was a Samurai sword that he took off a dead, Japanese officer during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
    Just then, the executive officer and a Marine, MP came to the lieutenant. He said, “Lieutenant, that sword, you hold just so happens to belongs to a, prominent family of Japan and they want their sword back.”
    “What about my men. I lost nearly a platoon of men out of my company. This sword is buried in their, hearts,” the lieutenant stated.
    “I realize, your pain and I totally agree but my orders come from high up,” said the XO.
    “You say, their family’s pretty rich, eh.”
    “Very wealthy.”
    “Then they can hire some divers.” He threw the sword into the Pacific.

    The moral of this story to me is that if you look a gift horse in the mouth, don’t ask for your gift back.

  2. dlhitzeman says:

    One of the thinks I have heard both directly and anecdotally from combat veterans is that the were “doing what they were asked to do” and “did it for their buddies”. Normally, most people would consider these statements some sort of cop-out, but I see them as the source of what Americans have always fought for: their families, friends, and comrades in arms.

    As long as that kind of motivation among American warriors remains true, the nation they represent will remain undefeatable, whatever the circumstances might be on the home front.

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