Memorial Day 2010

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Three months or so after September 11, 2001, the day we witnessed a devastating attack by radical Islamic terrorists on our nation, I went to Ground Zero in New York City. As my friend, a native New Yorker, and I walked from Greenwich Village to Lower Manhattan, we could feel it in the air, growing more palpable, more intense, the closer we got to the site of America’s collective loss. Call it a sensation, an aura, the footprint of the souls who were taken from us that day, the “it” to which I refer here is something known only to those who have been to ground we call sacred.

This was not new to me. I felt it at Pearl Harbor. And at Gettysburg, too. I hope someday to experience it at Normandy Beach and that field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The footprint of the souls who left us in sudden fury. The souls of Americans who were taken from us.

I think of that sensation, those footprints, today on the eve of Memorial Day, the day when we honor the countless Americans who have given their lives, either consciously or in sudden unexpected fury, for our country. I honor as we all must the blood they shed for us, for our children, for the preservation of this extraordinary experiment we call home. And, though my words seem so feeble in comparison, I thank those extraordinary Americans for what they have done for us.

Our nation today is once again traveling treacherous territory. This time we are encountering threats perhaps not so overt as those we encountered on that day in December of 1941 or on the bloody battlefields of our nation’s terrible Civil War or on those beaches in France so far from home – threats that are thus probably even more treacherous because of that. So I think of that famous passage I would hope every American has heard and should embrace. To paraphrase, it reminds us that it is not the reporter or the lawyer or the politician or the preacher or the community organizer who gives us our precious freedoms, freedoms unique and extraordinary in all the world. No, we have only one individual and one individual alone to thank for those precious freedoms. The American soldier.

I for one will never forget the ultimate sacrifice the American soldier has made for me and mine, nor will I ever forget the ultimate sacrifice that soldier’s family has made for us. Knowing full well the enormity of what that sacrifice means to us all, I remain eternally grateful to that soldier on this Memorial Day and every day. And I pray that every American will join me in this. We must never forget.

One Comment

  1. Posted June 1, 2010 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    Betsy – your words are poignant, perfect, to the point, and well thought. Today and every day is the most important day to recognize what our soldiers have sacrificed for “us”. We must never forget our American Heroes who have died, our American Soldiers who are presently fighting for us and our Veterans who fought for us in the past. They are all our Heroes. They all continue to fight on a daily basis in many ways that none of us can even imagine. We must all be thankful, grateful and never ever forget them. Thank you to all our Heroes. GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU and GOD BLESS OUR AMERICA.