30 May 2005
American Stars and Bars.
A heartfelt thanks to all who have made sacrifices in defending freedom and liberty.
I have occasionally felt of out of the loop on Memorial Day, like it's not for me somehow. In my family, I really don't have any close context of war and its toll. My relatives that spent time in the military don't identify themselves as veterans per se. An uncle went to Viet Nam, both my grandfathers were in "The Service," as they called it, during WWII, and my father's uncle spent time in Germany as a teacher after the fighting stopped. All returned home without physical harm, and, true to the stereotype, none really spoke much of those parts of their lives.
My stepfather's father was on a bomber crew in north Africa, and one of my grandmother's brothers was part of bomber crew based in England. To me, they have spoken of their roles as just going to work; that just happened to be their job at the time. Their descriptions are void of politics, morality and psychology. One of my grandmothers lost a cousin at the Battle of the Bulge, and the other lost an uncle in France during WWI; both seem to regard their losses as being from an era so far gone, that it almost isn't relevant today.
Glaringly obvious among the differences between the current war on terror and the wars of the 20th century is the level of sacrifice among the work-a-day public. In the early 40's, every citizen's life was touched, shaped, or defined by WWII. In today's America, unless we have family deployed abroad, we forfeit nothing. Don't weep to me about the price of gas ($1.84 per gallon as I write this) or tell me you had to wait 90 minutes at TSA screening before flying to Orlando. The absence of any denial of conveniences is the main reason the most debate about our overseas involvement sound like such petty selfishness.
These days, I don't feel as left out on Memorial Day, for it's a chance to recognize that dedication and sacrifice is required on all levels to emerge victorious.
On Sunday morning, I had the chance to be reacquainted with "America the Beautiful." It's too bad that our most of us only know or only hear the first verse. The song, in it's entirety, is not some chest-thumping chant of hubris, it's a plea for divine wisdom in the application of our national resolve, and a reminder that freedom isn't free, and the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.