Every Memorial Day as I try to craft a post to remember those who gave their lives so that we might be free, I find myself struggling for words. How can one man use language to convey the power of other men’s deeds, those who made the greatest sacrifice, not just for their own families, but for their country. Particularly in this day of an all-volunteer military, we are all humbled by their sacrifice as we’re grateful for what they accomplished through that sacrifice.
Today I recall the youthful braggadocio of one of the first patriots to give his life for our freedom, Nathan Hale who regretted that he had but “one life to lose for my country” at a time when his country wasn’t even five months old. How many men (and women) in the ensuing 235 years have recalled Hale’s bold statement as they set out to fight for his, for their, for our country, knowing that they too may have to lose their life for its cause to triumph.
And that is true courage, knowing that they might have to make the ultimate sacrifice.
There are signs, Walter Russell Mead writes,”that we are aiming to repeat a compromise of that kind [made after Vietnam] when it comes to the war in Iraq.” “Regardless of the merits of the war, those who did honorable service in it or laid down their lives at their country’s call, deserve our respect and our thanks.”
Those who opposed the war and those who supported it can unite in tribute to the loyalty, the courage and the sacrifice of those who served there.
That is something, but it is not enough. The Americans who served, suffered and died in Iraq — and who still serve there today — changed the world and won a great and a difficult victory. No account of their service, no commemoration of the dead that ignores or conceals this vital truth is enough.
Read the whole thing. (H/t: Instapundit). It wasn’t just on battlefields in Iraq where American soldiers changed the world by winning a great and difficult victory. It was also in the sands of Iwo Jima and the forests of the Ardennes. And the cliffs of Normandy. And the cotton fields of Georgia. And the fields and towns of 18th century New Jersey.
It is not just those men and women who perished in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past decade whom we remember today, but those who gave all in battles and skirmishes in places that are now our backyards and in battlefields few Americans will ever visit. Nor even care to.