The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

May 26, 2013

Memorial Day is the day to remember all those who died defending this country

ENID, Okla. — They were the boy next door, the kid down the block, the girl who sat next to you in class, the guy who ran the gas station, the woman in the next office.

They looked so smart in their crisp uniforms, as they kissed their moms goodbye, shook their fathers’ hands and strode off to fight for their country.

They were on their way to Brandywine or Oriskany, to Tippecanoe or Fort Mackinac, Cold Harbor or Malvern Hill, Ambos Nogales or Cantigny, Monte Cassino or Colmar Pocket, Bloody Ridge or Outpost Harry, An Lao or Ong Tranh, Al Busayyah or Wadi Al-Batin, Nasiriyah or Basra, Kamdesh or Tarin Kowt.

As they went off to war, they carried with them the hopes and expectations of a grateful nation, as well as the prayers of their families and friends.

And to a man, and woman, they have one thing in common.

They never came home.

We remember them today. We celebrate their sacrifice. We honor their lives.

They died on beaches, in forests, on hills, on prairies, under blazing sun, in pouring rain, in hip-deep snow.

They died so we could live. They shed their blood to keep the blood-red stripes of our flag flying high. They paid the ultimate price to keep this nation on the path of freedom.

For them, the war is over. But it is not over for the thousands of young Americans still fighting in Afghanistan. As you remember those who have gone before, please spare a thought for those who remain at war.

This is traditionally the beginning of summer. School is out, the weather is warmer and the days are longer. Today, we will kick back, burn a burger or two, go to the lake and generally enjoy ourselves. Life is good.

But we must remember those whose lives ended too soon, felled by musket ball, cannon shot, bullet or bomb, cut down way before their time.

They didn’t want to die for their country, no one does. To paraphrase and sanitize the salty words of legendary Gen. George Patton, no one ever won a war by dying for his country, he won it by making the other poor soul die for his.

But die they did, these our neighbors, friends and family members, and their mothers, fathers, wives and husbands were faced with letters, telegrams or grim-faced officers bearing the unbearable news of their passing.

As writer Joseph Campbell once said, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

Here’s to those who have died in defense of America, heroes all. We owe them a debt of thanks. We owe them a few minutes of our time as we pause today to remember them.

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