“A veteran – whether active duty, retired, National Guard or Reserve – is someone who, at one point in his (or her) life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount of ‘up to and including my life’.”
Memorial Day has been set aside as a time to remember those who have paid that ultimate price, and also to honor and thank those who returned from their time of service.
We think often of our military serving overseas, but time and again, they have come to aid citizens here when floods, blizzards, hurricanes and other disasters strike. It matters not whether they faced combat or served in a time of – always relative – peace. What matters is that they were willing to put their lives between us and our enemies in serving America.
Hammock Inc. has the privilege of publishing the member magazine for the Marine Corps League. None of us is a veteran, but as we tell members who ask, we try to be a friend. And though most of the rest of the year we’d argue that the Marines are America’s best, on Memorial Day, and Veterans’ Day, we lay that aside to honor all equally.
In the 4 years that we have worked with the League and heard amazing stories of heroism and hardship, I’ve often thought back to the immortal speech William Shakespeare gave Henry V before that battle on St. Crispian’s Day. It’s worth repeating part of it here, as a reminder of why veterans deserve honor not due to us civilians:
” We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”
(Photo At Top: Airman Jacob Proffer, a member of the Air Force Honor Guard, pauses to salute a grave after placing a miniature flag at its base during the “Flags In” tribute at Arlington National Cemetery, May 21, 2009. “When I do this, it makes me take a lot more pride every time I put on my uniform, seeing the measure of sacrifice so many have made,” he said. DoD photo by Donna Miles”)