May 28, 2011

Our Memorial Day

~ “LETTERS FROM AMERICA” - by The Metaphysical Peregrine ~

This Monday is a national day of remembrance for US military Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors that have given their lives in defense of this country and freedom. Memorial Day should have a sense of the sacred, but for most it’s the weekend of barbeques and beer, the weekend that officially kicks off summer, and the weekend of sales. I don’t know how many man in the street interviews I’ve seen that the interviewee has no idea what this holiday is about. This day, not to be chauvinist, is a day that anyone living in a free country should observe and honor the US Military.

The day itself started out as a commemoration of those that died in our Civil War, and was call ‘Decoration Day’. Since then over a million American servicemen have paid for defending freedom with their lives.

The kind of men these are was best summed up by General Douglas MacArthur at an address he gave in 1962 at the U.S. Military Academy:

"Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man at arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefields many, many years ago and has never changed. I regarded him then, as I regard him now, as one of the world's noblest figures -- not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless. His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give. He needs no eulogy from me, or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy's breast."
 "In twenty campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people. From one end of the world to the other, he has drained deep the chalice of courage. As I listened to those songs in memory's eye, I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs on many a weary march, from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle deep through mire of shell-pocked roads; to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God. I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always for them: duty, honor, country. Always their blood, and sweat, and tears, as they saw the way and the light."


These are exceptional people, I knew them when I served, and saw them killed in firefights, and wept at their funerals. In those years we had the draft, and draftees served with the same commitment as those that volunteered. Now our military is all volunteers and are making the same incredible sacrifices. It deeply saddens me that so many in this country do not honor them, and so many, including our president, have contempt for them. (One piece of evidence, among many, of that statement about our president, is his refusal, so far, to participate in the traditional presidential Memorial Day ceremonies.)

Ronald Reagan on this day in 1962:

"I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country. Words are even more feeble on this Memorial Day, for the sight before us is that of a strong and good nation that stands in silence and remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them. Yet, we must try to honor them not for their sakes alone, but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice."
  "Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we -- in a less final, less heroic way -- be willing to give of ourselves. It is this, beyond the controversy and the congressional debate, beyond the blizzard of budget numbers and the complexity of modern weapons systems, that motivates us in our search for security and peace. ... The willingness of some to give their lives so that others might live never fails to evoke in us a sense of wonder and mystery. One gets that feeling here on this hallowed ground, and I have known that same poignant feeling as I looked out across the rows of white crosses and Stars of David in Europe, in the Philippines, and the military cemeteries here in our own land. Each one marks the resting place of an American hero and, in my lifetime, the heroes of World War I, the Doughboys, the GI's of World War II or Korea or Vietnam. They span several generations of young Americans, all different and yet all alike, like the markers above their resting places, all alike in a truly meaningful way."
 "As we honor their memory today, let us pledge that their lives, their sacrifices, their valor shall be justified and remembered for as long as God gives life to this nation. ... I can't claim to know the words of all the national anthems in the world, but I don't know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does: 'O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?' That is what we must all ask."


This day, for me, I honor not only those million plus servicemen that have fallen protecting our freedoms, not only of America, but every nation now free, but the personal loss of those I knew, that fell.

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."
John 15:12-14

We ask for the prayers, love and support of every American Serviceman now serving anywhere in the world, as well their families.



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