Saturday, May 26, 2007

Memorial Day

A while back a friend of mine sent me a book by Peter Collier: "Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty"
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.


Anonymous said...

Well said, spd.

Thank you for being a veteran, and thank your son for serving now.

On Monday, I need to visit two other veterans, one of WWI and one of WWII; my grandfather and father, who rest together in a far green meadow.

Vaya con Dios, brother.

-Don Brouhaha

spd rdr said...

Tell them to rest easy, Don.
And thank them for me.

Anonymous said...

You probably already know this but for those who may not have heard, to honor his service the Navy is naming their newest Arleigh Burke class destroyer the USS Jason Dunham. I think in some small way we have started our chapter in the ongoing tale. We may not write as boldly as our fathers did and it remains to be seen how the story will end.

I hope our children need not be ashamed of us, though, when they do read it.

In reading about this I learned something else I did not know: Jason was born on November 10th, the same day as the Marine Corps birthday. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

- Cass

spd rdr said...

May the USS Dunham sail forever free and untroubled.


Cassandra said...

Happy Memorial Day, spd and Portia!

camojack said...

Lest we forget...ever.

portia said...

Thanks for the smile.

From the inside flap of the book jacket:

"Nobody signs up to win the 'Medal of Honor.' You earn it at the intersection of happenstance and hell, and you're there because that's what your country has asked of you."

The remarkable selflessness of these men in uniform is a portrait in bravery.

The unflinching service by all of our men and women in uniform--like the generations before them--is a lesson in quiet courage, and a testament to the heart and soul of America.

With gratitude,
A proud daughter

portia said...

Thanks Cass. Hope the day was spent with loved ones close by.

Cassandra said...

Actually, the day was spent shopping, mowing my lawn and pulling weeds :p

But the dog and I sat out and had one perfect ice cold beer at the end (he didn't drink the beer, but he's still good company). And there were lime popsicles, which I am absolutely mad for.

I did my celebrating earlier.

spd rdr said...

"One perfect ice cold beer."

A worthy goal for any fighting man.

That, and tits.

portia said...

That, and tits.

In these parts, spd, it's known as "Fleet Week."
Must be the beer....