Monday, May 25, 2009

Their Name Liveth Evermore

Memorial Day has a special poignancy for a nation at war. Every week, more Americans make the supreme sacrifice

Air Force 1st Lt. Roslyn L. Schulte, 25, graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2006 with academic and military honors. She deployed to Afghanistan in February 2009 to help train the Afghan National Army in her specialty of military intelligence

Lt. Schulte died on May 20 near Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device. She was the first female Air Force Academy graduate killed by an enemy combatant.

Marine Sgt. James R. McIlvaine, 26, of Olney and Staff Sgt. Mark A. Wojciechowski, 25, of Cincinnati, fell during combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq, on April 30

The next day, Army Sgt. James D. Pirtle, 21, of Colorado Springs and Specialist Ryan C. King, 22, of Dallas, Ga., gave the last full measure of devotion near the village of Nishagam, in Konar province, Afghanistan.

Al Anbar and Konar may not be household names, but previous generations had never heard of Guadalcanal or Bastogne before they became eternally linked with America's martial legend. Likewise St. Mihiel or Antietam, or any other locales whose names resonate with sacrifices made in freedom's cause.

Few Americans are touched personally by the ongoing conflicts overseas.

They enjoy freedoms hard won and preserved by people they have, for the most part, never met; they are as unaware of the deaths of these people as they were of their lives.

For every name there is a story of dreams, of duty, of a life cut short.

Staff Sgt. Leroy O. Webster, 28, of Sioux Falls, S.D.; Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyler J. Trahan, 22, of East Freetown, Mass.; and Staff Sgt. Esau I. De la Pena-Hernandez, 25, of La Puente, Calif., all gave their lives within the past few weeks to preserve our freedoms.

A society as blessed as ours - its people safe even while at war, prosperous even amidst economic crisis - needs to be reminded that such blessings come at a cost. Memorial Day is a time to remember, but it is more than that

Good men and women go off to war on our behalf, and some do not return.

On Memorial Day, we observe more than the fact that people died, but also how their deaths came to pass, and in what cause. We commemorate not just their sacrifice, but the context that gives meaning to both the fate they suffered and the lives they led.

We recognize the commitment to selfless service that brought them to a fateful day in an out-of-the-way place they had never heard of before they died there

Memorial Day is not simply about remembering our fallen; it is a day when we should fully and properly express our gratitude.

America owes them everything.

James S Robbins

Pic - Memorial Day


Khaki Elephant said...

Powerfully done.

Skunkfeathers said...

Another masterful post, Courtney.