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Saturday, May 23, 2009


Richard K. Munro

Appreciation, I think, is the highest, purest form of love. It is a kind of love that can blossom even when it is not returned. At its best it is a self-renewing kind of love.The leal and true mon appreciates his life of love, hope and liberty. Loyalty, appreciation, gratitude and love ask for nothing and give everything.

"You never lived to see
What you gave to me
One shining dream of hope and love
Life and liberty

With a host of brave unknown Soldiers
For your company, you will live forever
Here in our memory....

NE OBLIVISCARIS do not forget.


Mackubin Thomas Owens

May 25, 2009

Mackubin Thomas Owens is professor of strategy and force
planning at the Naval War College in Newport and a Marine
infantry veteran of Vietnam. He is also Editor of Orbis,
FPRI's quarterly journal of world affairs, and a senior
fellow of FPRI


Many cite the observation of Glen Gray in his
book, The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle:
"Numberless soldiers have died, more or less willingly, not
for country or honor or religious faith or for any other
abstract good, but because they realized that by fleeing
their posts and rescuing themselves, they would expose their
companions to greater danger. Such loyalty to the group is
the essence of fighting morale."

It is my own experience that Gray is right about what men
think about in the heat of combat: the impact of our actions
on our comrades always looms large in our minds.. As Oliver
Wendell Holmes observed in his Memorial Day address of 1884,
"In the great democracy of self-devotion private and general
stand side by side." But the tendency of the individual
soldier to focus on the particulars of combat makes Memorial
Day all the more important, for this day permits us to
enlarge the individual soldier's view, to give meaning to
the sacrifice that was accepted of some but offered by all,
not only to acknowledge and remember the sacrifice, but to
validate it.

In the history of the world, many good soldiers have died
bravely and honorably for bad or unjust causes. Americans
are fortunate in that we have been given a way of avoiding
this situation by linking the sacrifice of our soldiers to
the meaning of the nation. At the dedication of the cemetery
at Gettysburg four months after the battle, President
Abraham Lincoln fleshed out the understanding of what he
called in his First Inaugural Address, the "mystic chords of
memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot
grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this
broad land..."

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address gives universal meaning to the
particular deaths that occurred on that hallowed ground,
thus allowing us to understand Memorial Day in the light of
the Fourth of July, to comprehend the honorable end of the
soldiers in the light of the glorious beginning and purpose
of the nation. The deaths of the soldiers at Gettysburg, of
those who died during the Civil War as a whole and indeed,
of those who have fallen in all the wars of America, are
validated by reference to the nation and its founding
principles as articulated in the Declaration of

Though Lincoln was eulogizing the Union dead at Gettysburg,
the Confederate fallen were no less worthy of praise, and
the dialectic of the Civil War means that we include them in
our national day of remembrance. As Holmes observed, "...we
respected [those who stood against us] as every man with a
heart must respect those who give all for their belief."

Some might claim that to emphasize the "mystic chords of
memory" linking Memorial Day and Independence Day is to
glorify war and especially to trivialize individual loss and
the end of youth and joy. For instance, Larry Boyer was an
only son. How can the loved ones of a fallen soldier ever
recover from such a loss? I corresponded with Cpl. Boyer's
mother for some time after his death. Her inconsolable pain
and grief put me in mind of Rudyard Kipling's poem, Epitaphs
of the War, verse IV, "An Only Son:" "I have slain none but
my mother, She (Blessing her slayer) died of grief for me."
Kipling too, lost his only son in World War I.
But as Holmes said in 1884, "...grief is not the end of all.
I seem to hear the funeral march become a paean. I see
beyond the forest the moving banners of a hidden column.
Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of
life, not death--of life to which in their youth they lent
the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen, the great
chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful
orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good
and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope
and will."

Linking Memorial Day and Independence Day as Lincoln
essentially did enables us to recognize that while some of
those who died in America's wars were not as brave as others
and indeed, some were not brave at all, each and every one
was far more a hero than a victim. And it also allows us
forever to apply Lincoln's encomium not only to the dead of
the 1st Minnesota and the rest who died on the ground at
Gettysburg that Lincoln came to consecrate, but also to John
Basilone, Larry Boyer, and the countless soldiers, sailors,
airmen, and Marines who have died in all of America's wars,
that a nation dedicated to the liberal principles of liberty
and equality might "not perish from the earth."

Requiem for a Soldier

You never lived to see
What you gave to me
One shining dream of hope and love
Life and liberty

With a host of brave unknown Soldiers
For your company, you will live forever
Here in our memory

In fields of sacrifice
Heroes paid the price
Young men who died for old men's wars
Gone to paradise

We are all one great band of brothers
And one day you'll see we can live together
When all the world is free

I wish you'd lived to see
All you gave to me
Your shining dream of hope and love
Life and liberty

We are all one great band of brothers
And one day you'll see - we can live together
When all the world is free


Music by Michael Kamen
Lyrics by Frank Musker
Published by Music Sounds Better / BMG Music
Publishing UK Ltd./ Copyright Control/ Sony /
K-Man Corp./ ATV Music Publishing (UK) Ltd.
Additional percussion and programming
by Nick Patrick
Orchestra arranged and conducted
by Nick Ingman

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