Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day Thoughts

James Avery and Alex Lowe both have thoughtful notes on what Memorial Day's really about. Grilling and relaxing in the back yard is a great thing to do on Memorial Day, but take a moment, please, to keep in mind those whose sacrifices have kept tyrants, fascists, and despots at bay. My family's been kept safe by everyday Joes and Janes struggling in far off lands to improve the lives of strangers they've never met in a land they most likely hadn't read much about. War's not glorious, except to those naieve and far behind the lines. War is blood, tears, shit, missing limbs, missing friends and fathers, innocent children dead in the street as collateral damage. War is men and women standing in front of a stone wall on the Mall searching for the names of their fallen comrades. Still these amazing troops get their jobs done, sacrificing more than most of us will ever understand in order that our nation continues its wonderful, creaky, flawed role as a shining beacon to those wanting a better life. By far the best words I've ever heard to describe the importance of what these men and women do comes from the Arborath declaration where in 1320 a group of Scottish barons gathered to draft a letter to Pope John XXII asking for his support of the Scottish independence war. The declaration concluded "for it is not for glory, riches or honours that we fight, but for freedom alone, that no man of worth yields up, save with his life”. AFTERTHOUGHT: I should also add that most in the front lines fight for something few others away from the lines understand: they fight for their comrade next to them in the foxhole or trench. Read Ambrose's Citizen Soldier or watch Band of Brothers and you might get an idea what that bond's like. Those who never served, or those of us who served only in peacetime, can't truely understand the depth and intensity of that bond.

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