Chair Force Engineer

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sobering experiences

The most sobering moment of my Veterans Day was marching with a flag, passing a row of people who were taking part in the state's memorial service. I took a good look at the people and realized that they were the family members of soldiers and Marines who had recently given their lives in combat. I realized that I had to lock on and be as sharp as possible for the ceremony, and to honor the veterans in attendance. Yet for the survivors of our hallowed dead, you realize that no matter how smartly you salute, you will never be able to restore what was taken from them. The most eloquent of speeches can never bring their loved ones back.

During the speeches and tributes, the band was playing "America The Beautiful," which made me think about Ray Charles's unique re-arranging of the verses. Singing the third verse ahead of the (less-poignant) first verse, Charles reminds us that
Oh beautiful, for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
'Til all success be nobleness, and ev'ry gain divine!

For our hallowed dead, they placed their love of country ahead of their well-being. The least we can give them is a day without politics, a day without judgement, and a day when we can take the time to lovingly remember them for who they were.