I have always thought that everyone who joins the military is noble in some way. It doesn’t matter the reason for signing up, and there are so many. Some join to fight for America, some follow in their military family’s footsteps, some for an education, some to turn their lives around, some to escape poverty and gain skills and opportunity. Some even join because they like the uniform. In all cases, look at what we are willing to do, to risk in order to educate ourselves, turn our lives around, to earn that uniform, to fight for America. We promise to defend her against all enemies foreign and domestic, and we sign that blank check knowing that really, no matter our particular military occupational specialty or whether we signed up in peacetime or during war, we may be called to the front, that check endorsed. We promise to pay in full if we must, no matter why we signed up. Hopefully we appreciate our American military every day, especially our infantry and Special Forces who take the greatest risks. On Veteran’s day we acknowledge and honor those who served in the war zones. Today we honor those who paid in full and reflect on how very special it is that they were willing to give their lives for us.
I think about the families who go on with an empty place at their table that was once full of life and love. No matter who they were, no matter why they joined, they made good on their promise and they gave all in order that our American freedoms be preserved, that our American way of life could be enjoyed for another day. Truly we cannot be reminded too often that our right to say what we please, to do what we please and to make whatever we want of our free lives does not come for free. It is paid for with the blood of our heroes. Our rights and freedoms are protected at a very, very high price, a price the families of the fallen are reminded of every day that they must live without their loved one. America has always been so blessed to have so many men and women willing to make that sacrifice to preserve her. We are truly the home of the free because of the brave.
In America’s infancy they fought under the worst of conditions – limited or no supplies, food, shoes, weapons and ammunition – with the worst of odds against a far greater military enemy. They had no modern conveniences and little protection except each other. And still they fought and died for the idea of America that didn’t yet exist. The gruesome Civil War pitted even brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, yet they were willing to lay down their lives for America, and in so doing preserved the Union and abolished slavery. Through their sacrifice, American heroes saved the world from Fascism, Tyranny and genocide in World Wars I and II. They fought Communism in awful jungle conditions against a vicious enemy in Vietnam and in the austere and freezing terrain of Korea. We have fought the homicidal Jihadists from Iraq to Afghanistan so that those who so love death and subjugation will not prevail against freedom-loving peoples. So many empty places at the table…
Those who have laid down their lives for us are from every place in the nation, from every walk of life. They are religious, or somewhat religious, or not religious at all. They are the spectrum of political affiliation or none, and each fallen hero fought and died so that all of us could have ours – whatever we chose. America, the most exceptional and diverse country in the world, has the most exceptional and diverse fighting force in the world. We fight together no matter what because nowhere else in the world has such diversity been free to flourish.
As we remember these fallen heroes today, our liberty has never been at more risk. We continue to face vicious enemies, both foreign and domestic. We must not let our heroes’ sacrifice be in vain. In fact, we must work with constant vigilance to ensure that it is not. While men are willing to die on battlefields the world over for the sake of our freedoms, it is incumbent upon us to be involved in our country’s political processes at home – for the sake of those same freedoms. We cannot tune out because we are busy, we have our own lives to worry about, or because we find politics distasteful. Politics have always been and will always be distasteful. But this distaste is nothing compared to what our military heroes have faced on the battle field to ensure that American liberty would endure. We cannot sit idly by while our “representatives” lose the country our men died protecting.
To those souls who died for me, I offer my undying gratitude and the promise that I, for one, will not let that sacrifice be in vain. THANK YOU FOR MY FREEDOM!