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Those we honor and remember this weekend deserve our commitment to protect, the values they felt worth dying for.
Paying respects on Memorial Day has always been a family tradition. Some of my earliest memories are of visiting the graves of family and dear friends. More often than not, it was on Sunday mornings, the time of year that the late Spring, Ohio morning sun, began to be warm enough to cut the morning mist and cemeteries smelled of the flower bouquets parked neatly at the base of grave markers. It was also the day we honored those who had paid the ultimate price, for our family and every future family of our republic, to have this long weekend holiday. Mom and dad were both Korean War Vets, both being the youngest. All of my Uncles, WW II Vets. As you know, I am a Vet and now my son, as well. Even my first wife and mother of my children is a veteran. We were all fortunate to come home.
Those endless rows of stoic white grave markers that populate national cemeteries, belong to American heroes. Many of those markers identify those who left us, while serving our nation at war. That is who we are honoring and thanking this weekend. Their sacrifice ensures that we have the opportunity to sustain the republic they died for… if we could.
Not only do we offer honor and respect to those who ensured the survival of our republic, but it is important to note that by doing so, we are tacitly obliged to sustain the values they died for. If we don’t, their sacrifice was in vain. Those values are not a bunch of meaningless words. When nations understand and are committed to defending their values, those values become part of their identity. When our identity is secure, our republic is secure.
Only twice in US history, has our nation’s identity been so falsely and dangerously divided that it threatened our very existence. The Civil War was the first and the Trump era, the second. In both cases, the enemy was a group of Americans defending un-American values, not the real deal. In the case of the Trump era, an identity of fake patriotic values was sold like snake oil, by con-men to easily duped Americans, conditioned by 29 years of FOX propaganda. For the first time in my lifetime (yes, I”m old) half of America refused to unite in defense of the nation, against a foreign, adversarial attack by Russia. It is quite frankly, an obligation of citizenship to put aside our partisan dysfunction, in order to defend our nation and what it stands for.
As we go into this long weekend, remember who bought your freedom to go to a cookout with your friends and family. Remember what unified and bonded them together on the field of battle and now for eternity. Remember their reverence for what they felt worth dying for. Real American values don’t belong to a political party, a movement or otherwise. They belong to all of us. They are worth fighting and dying for.
This weekend’s stroll among the solemn white stones of the San Antonio National Cemetery, will be among friends, family and brothers and sisters-in-arms. I’ll likely smile through a tear or two, some happy and some sad, but I will also rededicate myself to defending the same values, they and all those before them gave all to sustain.