Today, Memorial Day, we honor those “who have died in our nation’s service.” They gave their lives that we might be free.
Regretting that we do not remember military heroes as much as we once did, Peggy Noonan (showing once again her relationship to the goddess Athena who inspired courage and appreciated valor in Greek warriors) believes a correction is in order:
It’s good to remember war is hell. But when we removed the warrior, we removed something intensely human, something ancestral and stirring, something celebrated naturally throughout the long history of man. Also it was ungrateful: They put themselves in harm’s way for us.
She then detailed the deeds of three of the bravest of the brave. Alvin York, a hero of World War I (and later, the subject of the Hollywood movie Sergeant York), Audie Murphy who served in World War II (and later a Hollywood star) and Chuck Boyd, who fought in Vietnam (“the only former POW of the era to go on to become a four-star general.“) Those brave men, like many noble warriors, don’t talk much about their deeds or their sufferings. For them, the doing is their duty. And victory their reward.
Those we honor today could not savor that victory, even as they anticipated it through their accomplishments. We who did not sacrifice as did as they, or even as much as those who return, enjoy the fruits of those accomplishments.
They cannot speak from beyond the grave, but perhaps if they could, they might sound a bit like this man, Frank Buckles, the last survivor of the supposed “War to End All Wars,” World War I:
Cassy Fiano who drew my attention to this video observes that Buckle “served because his country needed him. He didn’t want or expect anything back.” Many men fell who served as Buckles did: because our country needed them. Is is those great men we remember today.