May 30, 2005
Memorial Day this year for me has been a nice, relaxing time. A few friends drove down from North Carolina, and we had a nice dinner with my friend’s parents Saturday, a small cookout yesterday, and lounged around today. All in all, a very nice weekend.
I, like most Americans, have for years been thinking more of this holiday as simply a nice day that I don’t have to go to work, and an excuse to get together with friends. Growing up watching the fall of the Soviet Union, barely old enough to remember seeing the Russians as feared enemies as the friendship between the US and Russia developed, I had never seen the violence of the world that my parents and grandparents knew. But one fateful day, one September morning, all that changed.
I’m not one to usually appeal to mob patriotism, because I believe in America as an ideal, which is not always perfectly embodied in our nation’s actions. But the real world is hardly an ideal, as we learned on September 11th. That was a concrete action by people who want to see our destruction, and who will actively work to that end. The above picture is my reminder that there is a world out there that is against us. It is a reminder that as long as that world is out there, the ideal that I love must be defended and protected. The ideals, the logic, the words used to define what America entails are, on their own, powerless. For some adversaries, reason is not sufficient, we must back it up with force.
A quote widely (mis?)appropriated to George Orwell, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf?” sums it up. America is not defended by ideals or words, it is defended by men with guns. Those men and women, who have chosen military service, are putting themselves in harm’s way for nothing more than to keep us out of it. They tell us to sleep soundly, because they are keeping watch.
To those men and women who are serving, have served, will serve, and who have sacrificed their lives in order to keep us safe here at home, thank you. You don’t hear that often enough for us to express how grateful we are for the job you do. When the days come that you feel like an unsung hero, always remember that an unsung hero is still a hero.
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