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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day 2016: All Heroes

By Douglas V. Gibbs

In 1988 I was discharged from the United States Navy with a Service-Connected Injury.  As I began my journey through the Veteran's Administration network, I found the blessed opportunity to get to know at the time a number of World War II Veterans.

While I waited for my appointments each time I visited the VA, the conversations with these members of the greatest generation were amazing.  I heard harrowing tale after harrowing tale of confrontations with the Germans and the Japanese.  Vicious air battles, bloody ground battles, and bombings of restaurants while G.I.s rested in front of a relaxing meal in what they thought would be a safe place to eat in France.  And when I wasn't talking to WWII vets, Korea Vets, and Vietnam Vets were also eager to discuss their time in the military with a younger version of themselves.  They did most of the talking.  As far as I was concerned, my military experiences were hardly very compelling compared to the stories I was hearing from these heroes.

One veteran told me about the tales his grandfather had told him about his time in the War Between the States, and others forwarded stories from their fathers and grandfathers that included World War I, and the Spanish-American War.  All of these tales were laced with honor and heroism, and the stories of those who lost their lives during the fight.  I was told of men who were willing to lay down their lives for the freedoms of others - for people who they had never met.  They were willing to place their live on the line on battlefields far from their home.  These fallen heroes selflessly fought against the tyranny of their era, and their heroism lived on in the memories of those old veterans at the VA center who were telling the tales of their fallen comrades.

On each Memorial Day my memories always stir back to those days at the VA Hospital.  I remember the tales of the fallen military heroes.  Now, decades later, I am sure nearly all of those men I spoke to back then have passed on to the next place.  Yet, they live on in my memories, their conversations dancing through the lobbies and corridors of the VA facility back in the late 80s and 90s.  Their faces, their tales, and their memories of their fallen brothers in arms live on in the memories of folks like myself who have heard those stories, and retell them now and then to our friends and family.

Let us not forget the veterans who carried the promise of liberty long ago, the military personnel who fought in and before the War Between the States, going all the way back to the veterans of the Revolutionary War.  Each and every one of them were willing to pledge their Lives, their Fortunes, and their sacred Honor to secure the Blessings of Liberty to themselves, and to those that were not yet born.  They fought against determined enemies to protect the union of States, and the concepts the United States of America were* founded upon.  These courageous warriors did all of this without as much as a second thought.  "Freedom is not free" is something they understood, and did not take for granted.  It was the right thing to do, and they realized that eternal vigilance is required to maintain freedom.  Complacency, even in the military regarding the fight to protect liberty, is a dangerous thing, and can be destructive to a society that allows it to creep in.

On Sunday I visited the grave of my Grandfather who fought in World War II.  I was joined there by my dad who fought as a United States Marine in Vietnam.  My litany of friends and shipmates from all of the branches of the military who participated in some kind of conflict, often in the Middle East, also served bravely.  And all of them knew someone who died in the theater of war they served in.  That is what Memorial Day is for.  Memorial Day is our opportunity to remember each of those fallen Americans, for it was their sacrifice that enables us to continue to maintain a society that Secures the Blessings of Liberty.  It was their willingness to put their lives on the line that we are forever grateful for, and I only hope they found their peace in the Arms of the Lord after it was all over for them.

In short, "Thank you."

God Bless America, and those who have fought and died to ensure our freedom continues.  But we must remember, complacency is a killer of liberty.  Eternal vigilance is necessary.  The bloody battles to protect freedom will never end, as long as there are those that are determined to destroy liberty, and there are those who are determined to protect it.

",,,can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion.  The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13 states independant 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it's natural manure. Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusets: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen yard in order. I hope in god this article will be rectified before the new constitution is accepted." - Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, Paris, 13 Nov. 1787

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

* "were" was used after "United States of America" because the plurality of the States was a key part of the Constitutional Principles of the time.  In fact, it may have been more appropriate to call the country at the time (as it is in the Declaration of Independence) the "united States of America."

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