Monday, November 12, 2007

God Bless Our Veterans

The solemn pride
that must be yours
to have laid
so costly a sacrifice
on the altar
of freedom

Those of us old enough to remember and have appreciated the old television show, Hawaii 5-O, should recognize the statue in the first photo.

All three of these photos have been on this blog before, but on every Veteran's Day, Lovely Wife asks me, "Where were we XX years ago today?"

My response is always, "Honolulu."

But this time, it was 20 YEARS ago this week that we were there.

These photos were taken in the National Cemetery of the Pacific, in Punchbowl Crater above the city of Honolulu. We visited here on Veteran's Day 1987 and on each Veteran's Day, I think of how gorgeous and solemn this place is.

A beautiful place for our best and bravest to be laid to rest.

Ben Stein had this editorial on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday:

(CBS) Veterans' Day is a day of reflection for all Americans, including Sunday Morning contributor Ben Stein:
The other night, I walked around my Washington apartment, near George Washington University, past all the smiling, joshing, flirting students guzzling down Starbucks coffee.

On the way back, men and women and kids strode happily down K Street, shouting out "Bueller..." "Bueller..." to me, and then I was back in my apartment looking out at the Potomac River and the lights of Virginia.

Then a hot shower, then time to sleep.

Actually, no, first I got on my knees and prayed a prayer of thanks.

Because while we're all laughing and smiling here in the capital and in the homeland, in Afghanistan, men and women are eating chow in a truck or a Humvee wondering if they're about to get blown up. They're far from home.

In Iraq, men and women in the uniform are on patrol in terrifying streets in Samarra and Kirkuk and Baghdad, wondering if they're going home in a body bag, or going home at all.

At Walter Reed Medical Center, a place I visit often, men and women in the amputee ward are learning how to live without their arms and legs. They're bearing up, making plans for their future, and their families and girlfriends and boyfriends are at their sides.

At Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, where the dead from Iraq and Afghanistan sleep, widows are putting flowers and stones on their husbands' markers, and parents are watching their sons' gravestones with tears in their eyes. Their stories could wring tears from cement.

And in Iraq and Afghanistan, the fighting goes on and our soldiers fight like tigers.

Freedom is not free. The millions who fought for us bequeathed it to us. They bought it with their blood and their lives and their limbs. They're still doing it. We're fools if we don't know it.

John F. Kennedy said it well. He said we all ask God to go to work to keep America going. " on earth, God's work must surely be our own."

The men and women fighting so far from home are doing it, and spending a good chunk of the day praying for them and thanking God for them is just common decency.

Then we can go back to laughing and loving. They've got our backs.

© MMVII, CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I thought that was awesome.


Babystepper said...

I would love to see Arlington again because of those same thoughts and images. It would be great to see the place you describe in Honolulu too, as well as Normandy beach.

Julie said...

Very thought provoking post JAM...Thanks.

katherine. said...

I copied Ben Stein's bit from Sunday down also...

isabella said...

You are right, it's awesome! Both the Stein's bit and the National Cemetery photo.
I felt just as emotional visiting the American Cemetery in Normandy, France. All those rows and rows of white crosses...

Sharon Lynne said...

Great editorial. Good post. I really loved the pictures.

I've been to Normandy beach...when I was 20. My father-in-law landed there...and survived to tell the story.