29 May, 2023
Today announces for many veterans the annual resurgence of some measure of guilt for having survived a conflict that one's peers did not, then the greater guilt of being relieved about it. This is not, nor will ever be, about them.
It is about the man, almost still a child himself, who willingly positioned himself between an innocent and an aggressor and offered protection with his own body. The infantryman who, knowing the next step into no man's land was probably his last, took it anyway and fell. The woman who signed up as a single mom and learned during her first deployment that truck drivers had highest casualty rates of all jobs in the Army, yet still accepted the position of second vehicle in the convoy, never reaching her destination.
It is about the father who, young wife and children awaiting him at home, crashes through the door of a house where his own Soldiers just went down, and never comes out again. The beleaguered souls huddled in trenches who went over the top and soon after were cut down. The Marines dead and half buried in the sands of Buna Beach. The medic sniped as he dragged a survivor out of the open. The Sailor who went below decks to close hatches with no plan to resurface.
It is for the POW who refused release as a trade if any of his fellow prisoners remained behind. The bomber crews who accepted a 25% survival rate, wrote goodbye letters and hoped somebody in the squadron survived long enough to send them. It is for the more than 70,000 who remain missing and the hundreds of thousands who received draft papers, quietly kissed wives, mothers and girlfriends, and were never seen alive again.
Today is for the sacred patriots who having tasted the rich and amazing adventure of life, relationships and freedom, laid theirs on the altar for a friend, stranger or a cause and entered eternity.
We should say their names, lest they be forgotten and lest we ourselves forget to impart the same spirit in our descendants. Then, in urgent prayer, petition our Creator that their character will remain unneeded.
Copyright ©, Ben Shaw, 2023
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