General Patton said, “Let me not mourn for the men who have died fighting, but rather, let me be glad that such heroes have lived.”
The names of soldiers who died in service to our country are etched on marble stones. Their names are chiseled at the base of monuments, and 58,267 names glisten on the face of a black granite wall. Memorial Day is set aside for us to honor those who have given their lives for our country. We should do something on this day besides pausing for a moment of silence to remember. Last year on Memorial Day, I saw the documentary Hallowed Grounds about our military cemeteries overseas. These are beautiful places and often watched over by the citizens of nearby towns, citizens who care for our nations dead. So many gave their lives and never came home, even for eternal sleep.
As we observe Memorial Day it is time to stop thinking of it as a day off from work, or the opportunity to catch up on chores, or as a day to fire up the grill. It is time… we observe Memorial Day as a fitting tribute to those who serve our country. I say we must go beyond Memorial Day and pay tribute to these men and women every day.
Soldiers fight wars. War is not glorious.
This year, as our nation reflects on the Civil war, we are reminded of the horror of war here in Georgia. Andersonville, a civil war prison, Union Prisoners of war were kept suffering from scurvy and dysentery, and covered with filth and vermin. A third of them died, they were buried in mass graves, with no name on a stone. Not one of our finer moments. Now as a National Historic Site and Memorial to all Prisoners of War, Andersonville’s stain is tempered with a tribute to the courage our soldiers called forth from their hearts and souls –under unspeakable conditions—and teaches us valor and dignity.
Freedom is not free. We owe it to those who came before us. We owe it to those who will come after us. We owe it to ourselves—to be vigilant in protecting our freedom….to guard it with our lives.
It is our duty, as we enjoy our freedom, to honor and remember the profound sacrifice our nation’s soldiers have made for our nation and for us.
I ask each of you to do one simple thing. Whenever, wherever you encounter a soldier please thank him or her for their service. Let us see if together, we can inspire a nation to join us. Thank a soldier. Honor him. Before he is a name carved on a stone….and cannot hear you.