Blue Byline

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Our fallen warriors changed the world

Post by Brian O'Neill on May 26, 2013 at 1:00 pm with 2 Comments »
May 26, 2013 1:00 pm

From the War of Independence to the War on Terror, the American military has stood its ground against all-comers, from dictators and enemy alliances, to rogue states and a patchwork of radical jihadists.

Arlington National Cemetery/ visitingdc.com
Arlington National Cemetery/ visitingdc.com

With headstones continuing to multiply at Arlington National Cemetery, the country celebrates yet another somber Memorial Day. Flags fly amidst the smoke from backyard barbecues on this day when we reflect on the the legions of American soldiers, sailors and airmen who died in battlefields scattered across the globe.

Though we are often too self absorbed to notice the constant uptick in fatalities after a decade of war, we can all recognize that our fallen military members and their predecessors in uniform embody the best America has to offer.

And what we offer the world is hope.

In many parts of the world billions of people live in fear of their own government, their rights given and taken at whim, their basic needs a luxury few can afford. These are also the places in which U.S. forces have toiled, amongst a populace that can barely imagine such epheremal things as freedom and democracy.

Though the U.S. makes its share of mistakes, it is evident that the world relies on our military strength to match up against countries and leaders who hold their own twisted ideals higher than the lives of their people.

That knowledge is incandescent in the minds of those in military service. It represents an ideal that would be as familiar to the Minutemen who defied a monarchy, as it would be to the soldiers and marines who fought totalitarian powers on the beaches of Normandy and from one Pacific island to the next.

Our service men and women today fight a similar enemy, whose ideal is the opposite of hope. Where our troops seek to build schools, hospitals and partnerships, the enemy delivers suicide bombs. Where our soldiers risk their lives fighting alongside foreign forces, the enemy infiltrates our ranks and commits a craven act of homicide.

Our message is hope. The message of the jihadist is fear.

As the stark white headstones dotting Arlington’s green sward continue to multiply, it is fitting to acknowledge that the countless lives lost in our wars were sacrifices that did not just protect American freedoms.

If one could trace the path of our military presence by following the headstones or unmarked graves of our warriors, it would be a route made up of invaluable waypoints which would stretch across the globe.

And the world is a better place because of their sacrifice.

Leave a comment Comments → 2
  1. scott0962 says:

    While waxing poetical about Arlington National Cemetery the author neglects to mention that it stands on land originally seized from Robert E. Lee’s wife and turned into a cemetery in retaliation for his role in the Civil War. Her heir later sued the government for taking it without due process and won in the Supreme Court then having made his point sold the land to the government so the cemetery wouldn’t have to be relocated.

    None of which takes anything away from the sacrifice of the service members buried in the hallowed ground of Arlington but it does remind us that even the government they fought and died for is run by ordinary men and women who bear constant watching to ensure they adhere to the standards set by the Constutition to protect all our rights, not just the popular ones or those of the wealthy or well connected.

  2. Brian O'Neill says:

    I’m sure there are many other neat facts about Arlington I could have mentioned, including your tidbit on its original owner. But not on Memorial Day.

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