The Lady Speaks

These Honored Dead

This Memorial Day, take time to remember and honor those who gave all, and those who are in harm’s way.Take time to reflect upon the sacrifices still being made upon the altar of Ares; all those yet to die in our name.

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Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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Memorial Day is supposed to be a day set aside to remember the sacrifices of our military in wars – popular and unpopular – throughout our history.

Far too many people forget the meaning of the day, just as they forget the meaning of Flag Day, and Veteran’s Day. To most Americans, this weekend will be about prepping the house for summer, planting gardens, and barbequing. It will be about beer and friends, races and baseball.

I was raised to remember all those who gave ‘that last full measure of devotion’. My father was a lifetime member of the American Legion, and a Post Commander. He was a stickler for the rules of flag-handling, and many other solemn events related to the military and honoring their sacrifices. Before I was ten, I knew more about military ritual than most kids.

When I was eight years old, I was given the honor of leading the attendees of the Legion’s Memorial Day remembrance in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I remember little of the experience, except that my father looked very handsome in his Post Commander’s cap, and that there seemed to be a million people in the audience.

From my father, I learned a lot about ritual, but it was from my mother that I learned about the cost of war.

My paternal grandmother sent four sons to war. Three returned to her; the fourth buried with his comrades on a small plain in France. Her mother waited in vain for her son to return from World War I, but like so many, he perished in a foreign land, his final resting place unknown.

My maternal grandmother watched her brothers leave to fight in World War II. Of the four, two came home; one later to become an instructor at the Air Force Academy. Later, she saw her youngest son drafted, in 1964. My mother was fourteen and remembers vividly the pride and the fear the family felt as they watched him leave for US Navy boot camp. She remembers the eighteen months of terror spent waiting for any word, after the Navy reported him missing in action. She remembers the sense of relief and guilt that assailed them all, but especially him, when he came home injured, but not maimed or crippled. Alive, unlike so many others.

Many people often express surprise that I am very pro-military. I understand this – it’s hard for most people to understand that you can hate wars and the reasons for fighting them, but still love, honor, and support the US military.

Servicemen and women do not choose their battles, they do not choose their enemies. They are told where to go and what to do by leaders that may or may not have their best interests at heart, by leaders who may or may not have seen combat themselves. And they do the very best they can, under circumstances the rest of us will never be able to comprehend.

My problem is not, and never has been, with the men and women in uniform. It is with those who send those men and women into harm’s way without valid reason, without proper equipment and supplies. It is with those who scream themselves hoarse about supporting the troops, but cut veterans benefits in wartime and order them – in America’s name – to violate international law and their own moral code.

It is those who mistreat the American soldier while calling the rest of us unpatriotic.

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Arlington – Trace Adkins

I never thought that this is where I’d settle down.
I thought I’d die an old man back in my hometown.
They gave me this plot of land,
Me and some other men, for a job well done.

There’s a big White House sits on a hill just up the road.
The man inside, he cried the day they brought me home.
They folded up a flag and told my Mom and Dad:
“We’re proud of your son.”

And I’m proud to be on this peaceful piece of property.
I’m on sacred ground and I’m in the best of company.
I’m thankful for those thankful for the things I’ve done.
I can rest in peace;
I’m one of the chosen ones:
I made it to Arlington.

I remember Daddy brought me here when I was eight.
We searched all day to find out where my grand-dad lay.
And when we finally found that cross,
He said: “Son, this is what it cost to keep us free.”

Now here I am, a thousand stones away from him.
He recognized me on the first day I came in.
And it gave me a chill when he clicked his heels,
And saluted me.

And I’m proud to be on this peaceful piece of property.
I’m on sacred ground and I’m in the best of company.
I’m thankful for those thankful for the things I’ve done.
I can rest in peace;
I’m one of the chosen ones:
I made it to Arlington.

And everytime I hear twenty-one guns,
I know they brought another hero home to us.

And I’m proud to be on this peaceful piece of property.
I’m on sacred ground and I’m in the best of company.
We’re thankful for those thankful for the things we’ve done.
We can rest in peace;
‘Cause we are the chosen ones:
We made it to Arlington.

Yeah, dust to dust,
Don’t cry for us:
We made it to Arlington.

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May 26, 2006 - Posted by | Memorial Day, Politics, Protest, US Military, Veterans, War

2 Comments »

  1. My sister told me our former neighbor from our younger years was in the Big and Rich video Nov. 8…Danny Ward. I loved it and called all thelocal papers, but could not generate any interest. Small town, Beauty, Ky., and a local vet. honored in a video playing all over the country. As far as I know there are only two nieces remaining. I am so interested in this video and would like to know how Danny Wardwas selected for it? Thank you, Thank you!

    Comment by Penny Kirk | July 20, 2006 | Reply

  2. […] its collective back to those who protect and defend her – but it would simply be a derivative of These Honored Dead: […] Servicemen and women do not choose their battles, they do not choose their enemies. They are […]

    Pingback by On this Memorial Day « The Lady Speaks | May 26, 2008 | Reply


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