For those who serve, and those who have fallen

I found a useful quote from the craziest of generals, George Patton:  “If a man does his best, what else is there?” Those in uniform have done just that. Their very best has kept us safe and protected the integrity of a thankful nation.

I’ve studied military history for over 20 years and still stand in awe of the American soldier. They were never indoctrinated in military life like the Spartans, although they do claim some of that heritage. They didn’t hail from a nomadic tribe of warriors from Asia. They weren’t pressed to fight by ruthless dictators. They come from a stock of ordinary citizens transformed by a terrifying ordeal into extraordinary figures. Since the dawn of the Revolution, our armies were fueled by carpenters and clerks, teachers and traders, farmers and fishermen. Even today, the loss of a professional soldier is greatly felt by everyone, because he came from a tightly woven strand of American life.

“There’s always someone waiting in front of a button,” my cousin, a naval veteran, once reminded me. This is entirely true. For every public servant devoted to the pursuit of peace, there is always someone training for the alternative. The latter person is part of a proud and honorable service willing to make the penultimate sacrifice. For that, we honor those who serve, and those who have fallen.

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