The Left Coaster extends its deepest sympathies and gratitude to me the men and women of the United States Armed Forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families as we await your safe return home.
Eternal gratitude and honor is also present to all have died defending this great land. Names like Antietam, Normandy, Chosin, Iwo Jima, Tet, Baghdad…these will forever stay with us in the litany of our history, yes, but it will always be known that plain Americans, nameless behind the great battles, gave everything so that all of us might enjoy and live the values all Americans share: truth, democracy, liberty, equality, justice, and the pursuit of happiness.
Even on this day is it asked far, far too less: what do they think of us? Do the souls of those who have died, if they can see us, look upon us and judge us?
Even if they do not, honor demands that the question be asked. For those who died at Harrisburg, was Bush vs. Gore the right thing to do? For those who died in Sicily, were keeping public energy meetings secret appropriate? What would the fallen say? Likely we would be a far better country if we at least attempted to wonder what the souls given up in battle would think of us more often.
It is arrogant and offensive, yes, to assume the mantle of grief and sympathy for those among us without walking their path; how would we know what it’s like to lose a child in Iraq or have our life horribly taken from us in some gruesome maelstrom of violence? No, we cannot know, but we can be certain it is something to honor as best we can every day with the chance they gave us: being honest, honoring and obeying the law, paying taxes, voting, helping those in need, being tolerant of others.
Among all the confusion and strife among us that, at the very least, is something we can and always will do. For those who gave and continue to give everything, this is how we will not forget.