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Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day

From an article originally posted in 2006

But at sometime this weekend I will raise my glass in a silent toast to the reason for the weekend, those who gave their lives in the service of their country. They fell on the green at Lexington, at Trenton on Christmas Eve and in the snow at Valley Forge. They gave up their very lives in the peach orchard at Gettysburg, the cornfield at Antietam, the wilderness outside Petersburg and at Shiloh and Chancellorsville. They left their future behind in the Beleau woods, at Ch√Ęteau Thiery and at Ephey. They lie fallen on the beaches of Anzio, Normandy, Guadalcanal and Tarawa. They died at the frozen reaches of Korea at Chosin and Pusan. They paid the ultimate price in the jungles of Khe Sahn and Da Nang. They are buried in Arlington and veterans cemeteries all over the country..or in graves in France, Belgium or some obscure south pacific island.

They are the reason I have the right and ability to work hard and play hard. Because of them and the blood they shed, we all have the right and freedom to work for own destiny, to be that which we would aspire to become. Because of them we can trade for a living, write books, study numbers. It is their sacrifice that allows us to enjoy our lives and our loved ones. And Although I suppose this is more so for those of us in the United States, their sacrifice made it possible for many other nations to enjoy unprecedented levels of freedom and democracy. Memorial Day. Remember them as you celebrate the start of summer. Some enlisted willingly. Some were drafted kicking and screaming. But in the end they wore the uniform of their nation and died fighting under that flag that we may continue to be free and prosperous. I raise my glass to them in a salute of their honor and the sacrifices a grateful nation can never repay. To fallen comrades. We remember you.

The words may be a few years old but the sentiment remains as strong as ever. This weekend the haze of backyard BBQ grills smoking as an endless supply of burgers dogs, chicken and other tasty dead animals will dominate American skies in the ritual of the unofficial first day of summer. Here on Kent island the skies willl fill with the sound of music form the dock bars and the growl of high performance engines let losse for the first time of the year. The pack of fast boats will doubtless run to Tilghman island for the bash at Captain Buddy’s that has been a Memorial day ritual for many years (This year broken rib Tim will remain firmly terra firma). There will laughter, music, fiends, excessive aduly distilled beverages and a general damn good time. Enjoy the weekend but at some point recall why we are celebrating.

A bunch of us went out to see the blue Angels the other day as they put on the annual Naval Academy Graduation air show on Wednesday. I could not help but think about the graduates the air show honors every year. They all signed up in 2006, five years post 9-11. From the very first time they raised their hand on the first day of plebe summer they knew they were entering a war time military. Those who choose the marine option on commitment day last year were well aware they were probably going to face combat during the five year commitment. Those who similarly tossed their caps in the air early this week also knew that they would probably see duty in Afghanistan or Iraq in the next five years. Yet they joined anyway. Most of them could have gone to any school in the country. They chose to serve their country.

I think of the enlistees. Regardless of their individual reasons for joining they have volunteered to serve and if necessary fight for their country. They are all too aware what they are getting into. They are over worked, underpaid and they go to serve anyway. As you party and enjoy the comfort of family and friends this weekend, take a minute to honor them and think of those young men and women who have joined the ranks of those who gave all for our country over the centuries and decades.

The bravery and honor of all those who have ever put on the uniform of the United States of America deserves nothing less.

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