Remember them: They built our freedom with their lives.
May 25, 2016
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.
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.
With no idea when they might get back, if ever.
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.