Remember them: They built our freedom with their lives.

On Memorial Day, all Across America, we remember the sacrifice. Photogragh: J Gerald Crawford.
On Memorial Day, all Across America, we remember the sacrifice. Photogragh: J Gerald Crawford.

THEY WENT AWAY to places they maybe had never heard of, could not spell, could not pronounce.

Places like Marne, Meuse-Argonne, Belleau-Wood.

Places like Leyte, Okinawa, Guadalcanal, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Normandy.

Dien Bien Phu, Saigon, Baghdad.

They went away in great numbers.

And did not come back.

Young.

Or just past young.

Ripped, yanked from the lives they had known.

Away from the umbilical cord of home.

Sent away on bouncing, rolling, smelly ships and roaring, crowded, shaky airplanes. On buses, trains.

Frightened.

Homesick.

With no idea when they might get back, if ever.

Roger Summers
Roger Summers

Duty, loyalty, purpose summoned them.

And, in the end, duty, loyalty, purpose, claimed them.

Claimed them in great numbers, numbers too large to precisely count.

So on this Memorial Day we remember them.

Proudly, reassuringly the flags will gloriously wave, tugging mightily at the heart, soul.

Majestically, buoyantly the bands will call up the tunes – the fanfares, overtures — that inspire.

Bring lump to throat.

Tear to eye.

In person, in photographs, in videos and in the mind’s eye we will go to the national cemeteries and other cemeteries where those who went away are at deserved, honored, peaceful rest.

There, where the row upon endless row of markers collectively, soberly, somberly remind of the incalculable price extracted.

Paid so those here on this Memorial Day can go on, be all we might be.

To pursue fulfillment and its blessings.

And those who come after us can too.

Roger Summers is a journalist, essayist and author of The Ladies in the Pink Hats and My Johnny.

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  • Don Newbury

    A brilliant piece, worthy of memorization.

    • Roger Summers

      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

  • Roger Summers

    Honored to have these words introduced by the master photographer Gerald Crawford. His photograph dramatically tells a compelling story of its own.

  • Caleb Pirtle

    Beautiful. Touching. Thoughtful. Reverent. Eloquent. These words should be spoken at every Memorial Day ceremony in America. They speak for us all.

  • Gerald Crawford

    Thanks, Roger. I am glad to have my photo illustrate your words depicting the sacrifice that our service men and women made. Gerald Crawford

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