Memorial Day 2009

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It’s not a sale.

It’s not a party.

It’s not a day off work.

It’s a memorial to those who placed freedom, liberty, and dignity above the tiny distractions of life. We memorialize the moments of our heroes' lives–moments that defined their legacy in God’s book.

They raised their hands and swore to defend their country and Constitution. They were so young, then. I saw a young Marine, yesterday, at his girlfriend’s high school graduation. His dress blues looked so empty. His face looked so young. “He looks like he’s twelve,” my wife said.

They swore to obey the orders of the President of the United States and of officers placed over them. They entered into a covenant with freedom without reservations or purpose of evasion. They endured humiliating, painful, exhausting training that seemed worse, to them, than any combat could. In this, they were wrong, but they had so little to compare against.

My dad returned from World War II and Korea. Many of my uncles returned from WWII or Korea. My cousins from Vietnam. None of these men talk much about their experiences, though my uncle Pat Mahon wrote about his experiences on the Catalinas in WWII.

Psychologists like to say these men, and others like them, are too traumatized by war to speak about it. Perhaps. Or perhaps, to them, silence is the greatest tribute to their fellows who didn’t return–a statement in and of itself. What can the living say that’s more profound than the actions of their fallen comrades? Lincoln understood this when he said, “The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here.”

At 3:00 p.m. today, please join millions of others in one minute of silence. Remember what you hear.