The book is prominently displayed in my office, and I frequently pull it down and let the pages open to wherever and read. These are the stories of heroes. Of men who gave it all and then gave some more. They are our fathers and sons and brothers and mates. They came to serve their nation as youngsters from cornfields and mesas and city streets, and in Tibor Rubin's case, from the maws of a Nazi death camp. They became heroes risking their lives for their comrades, and for each of us. Each story stands as reminder of what it means to believe in something beyond yourself.
Mr Collier writes in today's Wall Street Journal of "American Honor" and why it should matter still in a nation obsessed with celebrities and self.
Once we knew who and what to honor on Memorial Day: Those who had given all their tomorrows, as was said of the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy, for our todays. But in a world saturated with selfhood, where every death is by definition a death in vain, the notion of sacrifice today provokes puzzlement more often than admiration. We support the troops, of course, but we also believe that war, being hell, can easily touch them with an evil no cause for engagement can wash away. And in any case we are more comfortable supporting them as victims than as warriors.
Former football star Pat Tillman and Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham were killed on the same day: April 22, 2004. But as details of his death fitfully emerged from Afghanistan, Tillman has become a metaphor for the current conflict -- a victim of fratricide, disillusionment, coverup and possibly conspiracy. By comparison, Dunham, who saved several of his comrades in Iraq by falling on an insurgent's grenade, is the unknown soldier. The New York Times, which featured Abu Ghraib on its front page for 32 consecutive days, put the story of Dunham's Medal of Honor on the third page of section B.
Do not let these good men pass from view unheralded. Read their stories and tell them to your children. Honor them and thank them. Every one of them. And every one who served with them.
They are what our best is. American idols.