On this Memorial Day weekend, I’m sending warm greetings and affirmations to all veterans and veterans’ families – and indeed to all American veterans everywhere – who have given sacrificially for the shared values and civic dreams we prize above all others – freedom, justice, and equality for all.
My favorite lines in “America the Beautiful” are in its third verse: “O beautiful for heroes proved/ in liberating strife,/ who more than self their country loved,/ and mercy more than life….” While many can lay claim to that sentiment, our veterans are among the chief patriots “who more than self their country loved…”
During my lifetime, America’s military service personnel have been engaged in one “conflict,” “war,” “skirmish,” or “initiative” after another. Veterans have answered the call whenever it has been issued, and we have witnessed their valor at every turn.
That we have not discovered better ways to resolve international differences and global tensions is a commentary on a lack of political will and imagination, and there is much work to do on that front. But our veterans and the families of our veterans have been exemplary in sacrifice, steadfastness and determination.
A good friend, who served several tours in Vietnam, once expressed utter humility and hope in one simple statement, and I haven’t forgotten it: “I just did my duty. One day we’ll figure out better methods of dealing with things other than shooting at each other.” May we all increase in our sense of duty, dedication, and our hopefulness for that better world.
– Bob Hill