Let us take a moment on this Memorial Day to stop the hustle and bustle of our overly busy lives and reflect on the safety, prosperity, and freedom that we enjoy. As Americans in 2008, we live in such ease and comfort that most civilizations throughout history couldn’t even imagine what we have, much less compete with it.
Now, as you think about how good we’ve got it, think about the millions of brave American men and women who have sacrificed everything they are to grant us with this profound blessing called America. It is those people who deserve our most heartfelt gratitude, respect, and honor. It is those whom we should thank on this Memorial Day.
Below are some of my favorite Memorial Day items from around the blogosphere. Enjoy!
President Ronald Wilson Reagan
September 15, 1972
Sergeant Timothy Padgett, from DeFuniak Springs in Walton County Florida, was 28 years old when he died in a firefight in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Sgt Padgett was a Special Forces medic. He almost certainly spent more time helping remote villages and their children than he did the wounded in combat. That is what the Green Berets do; that is what Americans do. He came home last spring in a flag draped casket, to a small town that remembers him as a volunteer firefighter, who had his Mom drive him to fires before he got his driving license in high school. He understood at a young age what citizenship means. He was the youngest of three, and his mother calls him her baby. Her heart is broken, yet she respects his decision to serve, and in that heartrending sadness, she is proud of his bravery, his dedication and his desire to help others.
I was on Hurlburt Field, the local Air Force Base the day they brought Sgt Padgett home to Florida. As I came through the terminal of the Base Operations building, I saw a thousand young Americans standing motionless. Dressed in Battle Dress Uniforms identical to each other, their faces as different as the many lands that sent immigrants to our shores; Korean, Italian, African, German, Polish, Chinese, Mexican, Russian. Each one profoundly American, and brave beyond any reasonable expectation, brave even beyond imagining. Many standing there were veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq; they had seen the enemy’s vision for our future. They had fought him, and they know the depravity of his ideology. They stood in silent ranks as an honor guard carried the casket in a solemn cadence past them; each individual salute a personal tribute, so precise, so intent, they utterly shamed me.
To most Americans this dignity is reserved for Presidents and Statesmen, yet these young volunteers give it to comrades fallen in battle, a warrior’s farewell, as proud and as powerful as anything I have ever seen. It was appropriate, yet somehow insufficient. There should have been busses here, with teachers and students, construction workers, doctors, lawyers, families with children, immigrants, everyday people, standing silently and respectfully, standing with the bravest of us, standing in tribute to who we are, thankful for all we have, thankful for this brave, honest, eager young man. There should have been thousands.
There’s my two cents.