05/31/04 — Memorial Day: A tribute and a petition

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Memorial Day: A tribute and a petition

Day is done.
Gone the sun
From the hills,
From the plains,
From the sky.
All is well.
Safely rest.
God is nigh.

Under formal white gravestones standing at permanent attention in flawless formation, heroes lie. They rest under markers in family graveyards on America’s farms. And in quiet church cemeteries. And urban cemeteries where there is little space to separate them from the din of the living.

And some still lie scattered around overgrown battlegrounds throughout the earth — on Iwo Jima, at Lexington, Seoul, and beneath the sea, and in a thousand other places where they died in the service of our country and in the cause of liberty.

Their resting places are as diverse as were their lives.

They are Americans of every race and station — the son of a president, the son of a sharecropper, now joined forever as equals.

They were store clerks and schoolteachers who became soldiers and died, and so eternity knows them as freedom’s warriors, nothing else.

A great bond binds them to one another and to us. We are their beneficiaries, the heirs to the great responsibility that they so nobly fulfilled.

This is Memorial Day, a day set aside for the appreciation of their sacrifice, and to recognize the cost of freedom.

May our land be always the model of liberty and justice that it was ordained to be. May there be only rare occasions, if any, in which that whole measure of sacrifice is required to preserve our ideals.

But if dangers come, may we have brave soldiers to meet them on the field of battle with superior arms and unyielding dedication.

Published in Editorials on May 31, 2004 10:49 AM