Her thumbs danced over the tiny keyboard of her cell phone, glumly texting a friend. I reached over and, uncharacteristically, snapped it shut. Gently, but firm.
“Not today, hon.”
With a loud sigh of disgust she slammed the phone back into her purse and sat there in the fold-out chair and sulked. My wife’s look to me of indignant expectation (You going to put up with that?) was met by my practiced calm of everything-will-be-fine (She’s a teenager, that’s what they do).
Hoping against hope that my doubting Thomas wife was wrong and that I was right, I settled in to listen to the Memorial Day program at the Los Angeles National Cemetery. It was May 30, 2009, and as we sat there on the lawn that cloudy morning, our little family was a whirl of dysfunction. It had been building for some time; petty problems had ruined our peace, and small arguments and squabbling set my wife and my 16-yr-old daughter at mutual odds. I sat there amidst the several thousand gathered feeling alone, distant, isolated. And completely alienated from my family. How could three so close seem suddenly so distant?
Speaking to honor our fallen war heroes that day were several Hollywood notables including John Voight and Robert Davi. They were reading letters sent home from distant battlefields and different wars. Sent to loved ones by men they would never see again.
As the program proceeded, a miracle happened. It happened within our family – but I think it was happening everywhere that day, all across America really. We forgot our petty differences for a moment. We forgot to text. We forgot who was on “American Idol” that week. We forgot ‘it’s all about me’.
We remembered the soldier.
There were tears wept openly that day as these heart-rending letters were read. A glowing warmth of pride descended upon this crowd as we sat there together and considered the people who were willing to serve to preserve our freedom.
My daughter’s truculence had dissipated and been replaced with a sweet reverence. After the program we wandered through the cemetery reading the headstones of veterans who had passed. My daughter wandered off by herself, reading the names, fully engrossed in reverie for these heroes of past wars. My wife nodded at her, squeezed my hand, and we watched her in quiet repose. This was something new I was witnessing. My daughter got it.
This recent Memorial Day was a good time for America. And it was definitely a good day for my family.
I thought of times in our history when brave men in uniform demonstrated their courage. And by ‘brave’ I mean – scared sh*tless, disoriented, fiercely committed, praying for help, screaming death and venom at evil, blasting away at the enemy, and…basically doing exactly what a soldier is expected to do. Put himself in the line of fire to win the battle.
The 101st Airborne at Bastogne. The Marines at Chosin Reservoir. Normandy. Iwo Jima. Saigon. Fallujah, Iraq. Hindu-Kush, Afghanistan. The examples of American Military heroism are endless.
Jesus told us in the Bible that “no greater love hath a man that that would lay down his life for another.” A prescient truth foretelling true self-sacrifice, as reflected in the Cross — our Lord’s final act of love on this earth. Consider the love and selfless courage it would take for a G.I. in combat to throw himself onto a live grenade to save his fellow squad members. Yet this has happened time and time again by our courageous troops, most recently, in Ramadi, Iraq by a young Navy SEAL Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor.
These acts of heroism are common, but seldom widely reported. More often than not, they are buried beneath apparently more urgent stories like who won a talent contest or basketball championship.
The many efforts of the Left to disparage and denigrate our servicemen are all too widespread. Our troops are constantly being maligned as intellectually inferior and naively gullible. Ironically, the exact opposite is true. In fact, the very highest of all human ideals and attributes is to be found by the men and women who serve in our military.
My teenage daughter got it on May 30th. She got that her carefree life of texting her friends and going to the mall and riding her horse is all made possible by the sacrifices our military men and women are willing to make on a daily basis. They don’t demand our respect – but they are certainly worthy of it.
So the next time you hear some arrogant, pseudo-intellectual dipstick running his mouth about how our military is a bunch of ignorant, thug rednecks…step up to the Cretin and set him straight. Idiocy, if tolerated, has a habit of turning into a cultural mindset…and pretty soon you have one of those ‘Zeitgeist’ things happening. That’s how Political Correctness got started. (And, not coincidentally, the Third Reich.)
It’s time to cut that garbage off at the knees. Educate yourself, America. Re-examine our roots and our heritage and our history. Contrary to what the America-hating revisionists want you to believe, America has a proud past of building from nothing a nation that is the contemporary cornerstone of freedom for all mankind. We haven’t been perfect…but we’ve become the best the world has ever seen. Build up a fire in your belly for America and all that she stands for, and stand up and shout your love of country and honor for the flag from the rooftops.
If you’re not spitting out blood… you’re just not yelling loud enough.