To the Editor:
Some years ago, I had occasion to visit Arlington National Cemetery. If you have never been there, you need to go!
I visited the graves of John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert. There was however another grave I wished to visit.
At the onset of WWII, a skinny young kid joined the Army. He graduated boot camp a Private First Class and soon found himself on the battlefields of Europe.
He showed uncommon valor and leadership. Because of these traits, he earned one battlefield promotion after another, and one medal after another.
During one battle in particular, his platoon was being overrun by a German advance. Despite being wounded himself, he climbed atop a burning tank, which could have exploded at any second from fuel and ammunition inside. He manned the tank's mounted machinegun and opened fire.
He is credited with singlehandedly stopping the German advance and saving his platoon. For this, he received the Congressional Medal Of Honor, Belgium's Croix de guerre and Frances Legion of Honor.
By wars end, he had been promoted to an officers rank and to this day remains the single most decorated soldier in American Military history.
When the war ended, he had just turned 21 years of age. Many years later, he would die when his private plane crashed in Virginia. His name is Audie Murphy and he remains one of my personal heroes!
I stood at his grave and wept, thinking of the horror he and others like him endured, to free the world of Fascism and oppression.
From there, I visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. Many mistakenly believe that only one unknown soldier lies there. In fact, there is one from each war. You can not visit this Holy site and not be effected by it for evermore!
This however is not the only place where unknown soldiers are interred. There are many hundreds in Military cemeteries around the world. Their grave markers read simply: UNKNOWN.
We refer to all fallen soldiers as having paid the ultimate price or as having made the ultimate sacrifice in the fight for freedom. With no disrespect to these gallant soldiers, there is one group that has given even more.
They are the Unknown Soldiers! Those who gave not only their lives, but their very identity as well! Their families never knew what really happened, how they died, where they are buried and their families never received closure.
These soldiers are the ones who truly made the ultimate sacrifice! There is one such soldier in my family. He went off to war and never returned. His body was never found or at least never identified. His parents received conflicting stories.
He was on a transport that was sunk and all hands lost, he was killed invading Anzio Beach, and others. The government sent the family his New Testament... it had someone else's name on the presentation page. He remains among the unknown.
As we "celebrate" this Memorial Day, don't just slow down... Come to a full stop! Reflect on what we have and those who died that we may have it.
Teach your children what Memorial Day is really all about and teach them to respect the sacrifice of our fallen brothers and sisters...
The next time you see someone in a VFW/ American Legion hat or in uniform somewhere, walk over, shake their hand and say "Thank You".... pay for their coffee if you want... they are the reason you have the RIGHT and ability to do it.
We have Memorial Day, lest we forget! God Bless America, and our soldiers.