Friday, May 25, 2007

Go Find A Soldiers Grave

As we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day, I ask you to consider the suggestion of Ralph Kinney Bennett, who last year posted a phenomenal article at TCS Daily about how to make Memorial Day truly memorable.

Make this Memorial Day really memorable.

Go and find a soldier's grave.

It shouldn't be too hard. If you're not near a military cemetery, just about any cemetery will do.

Look for the little American flags fluttering by the stones or the little bronze markers placed by the veterans' organizations.

Or walk the rows and look for those stones that impart terse histories of short lives -- "Killed in Action on the Island of Iwo Jima," or "KIA Republic of Viet Nam," or "Iraq 2003."

I know, I know. You do plan to watch that short parade, and the ceremony at the flagpole. But then relatives are going to be over for that big cookout. There's baseball and auto racing on TV, not to mention the "Memorial Day Mattress Event" or the "Memorial Day SUV Salesathon."

Look, just take an hour away from all that. An hour. Go out early in the morning if you have to.

Go and find a soldier's grave.

Put some flowers there. Or just pause and say a prayer. Nothing elaborate. "Thanks" will do.

Or just stop and think about what it means; what it really means to give your life, in its prime, for your country. Look at that name there on the stone. Think what might have been... and what was.

Some of these men and women were in uniform by choice. Some because they had no choice. Some were heroes. Some were not.

But they were there where all hell was breaking loose. They probably had no idea they were giving "the last full measure of devotion." They just had some instant, desperate job to do. In a cockpit or a turret or a hole in the ground.

Did they grasp the "policy implications" of their presence on the high seas, in the air or on some foreign soil? Did they have time for a curse or a prayer when they saw the muzzle flashes or heard that rushing sound, or when the bomb sent the Humvee into the air?

Go and find a soldier's grave.

You can have that hamburger and beer later, and maybe relax in the hammock and not give a thought to that one whose life span is now an incised line in stone -- that one who represented you, like no Congressman could.

Go and find a soldier's grave.

Remember what duty costs.

Then just bow your head and, as Gen. George S. Patton said, do not mourn that such men died, but thank God that such men lived.

Bennett's suggestion is much more in keeping with the ideals of Memorial Day then John Edwards' revolting effort to seek a personal political advantage by dishonoring the sacrifice of our heros.

How do you plan on celebrating Memorial Day?

Photo by William D. Moss, courtesy of the Defense Department.

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