A couple of years ago I gave the Memorial Day speech for a community gathering in my hometown. This year I am far from home, realizing what a different perspective such displacement gives me.
How will our service be remembered--those of us who participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom? Will we be revered or will we be excoriated like our brothers and sisters who served in Viet Nam? Do I support our continued service here in Iraq knowing that the fickleness of the American poll taker means it's more likely as time goes on that Iraq will be remembered like Viet Nam? (Coincidentally, the answer to that question is yes.)
My wife and children attended our community Memorial Day service this morning that was very touching. She had this to say:
the speaker was a National Guard soldier... He has been in the National Guard for 41 years. ...he has been to Iraq... He did an exceptional job, and I talked to him a little afterwards. He loves his country and his job so much. We need 50 million more men just like him so that this country would be awesome. I am proud of you and what you are doing. I didn't think that I would say it, but I am glad we have come through this tumultuous time. It has been the most difficult thing that I have ever done in my life, and I didn't even go over there.In the hubub of what Memorial Day has become for many, some news outlets only talked about such stuff as how many people went to the beach or how much more expensive gas was this year than last. I did, however, find some very stirring tributes to those who serve and especially to those "who gave their last full measure of devotion".
In the Washington Times, Cal Thomas had the following to say:
What continues to amaze is how many of the wounded men and women did not want to leave Iraq, preferring to rejoin their units as soon as possible.In Human Events, Armstrong Williams gave the following tribute:
Chaplains prayed with the wounded and for the dead. If the American Civil Liberties Union objects, someone should tell them to shut up.
We are told most people don't have any relatives in today's all-volunteer military, or know anyone who does. That is too bad, because such people are missing the privilege of knowing a group of young men and women whose commitment to duty, honor and country is refreshing in a self-centered universe.
After all, the importance of celebrating Memorial Day is not to celebrate per say, but to confirm the significance of lost lives.In National Review, Victor Davis Hanson reminded us of the good we have accomplished recently, and the things we can be grateful for. Be begins thusly:
By coming together in a large communal ritual, we reinforce the notion that these soldiers, that these people, have actually died. And that they died to strengthen our individual freedoms. After the fighting in their various wars, some of our soldiers returned home with tattered minds and spirits, only to be held in lower regard than the enemy they had struggled to defeat. Some were still relegated to the back of the bus because of the color of their skin; others never lived long enough to see the civil rights legislation of the '60s. Yet they fought for an idea so powerful that it moved many of them to die for their country. We cannot forget that what is best about this country rests on their shoulders.
There may be a lot to regret about the past policy of the United States in the Middle East, but the removal of Saddam Hussein and the effort to birth democracy in his place is surely not one of them. And we should remember that this Memorial Day.I would like to pay my tribute as well. Not only to the Americans who have given their lives to make Iraq free, but as well to the Iraqi men and women who have dedicated their lives to the proposition that all people are created equal, and that they are endowed with inalienable rights by their Creator, God. Their blood has fertilized a soil in which liberty has sprouted and begun to grow.
May God bless those who haven given their all here, and may He continue to bless this noble endeavor. May He comfort the Iraqi people in their hard-fought struggle to transform dream into reality. And may we, who already live the reality, always remember them in our prayers.