by Jack Tenhet
Another Memorial Day has come and gone. The smells of barbecues
and the laughter of friends and family have almost faded into
memory. The waving sea of old glory will now be raised to
full staff as the world continues doing what the world does.
To many, this was a three day weekend, a time for celebration
and glory. For many others, this was a day of remembrance
for the friends they lost, the husbands who never came home,
the fathers who never held their children, the sons who never
played basketball until dinner.
This weekend past, in between the barbecues and waving old
glory, we should have paused to remember fields of white crosses;
stars of David. We should have paused to remember a wall of
black, and the wall that is to come. In all the parades and
fanfare, how many of us truly considered, even for a moment,
what we owe those who died fighting for our freedom, those
who cam back with broken bodies and broken minds. The ghosts
that walk on earthly feet, the walking wounded, the living
This weekend there has been much ado about politics and pettiness.
Much has been taken for granted amidst the stream of pointing
fingers and bruised egos. The blanket of freedom we take for
granted is stained with the blood of the countless fallen
who died to secure that blanket for us. It's stained with
the blood of the ones who came back but never really left.
The ones who sleep on park benches, eat in soup kitchens.
The blood is the life and it is ours to decide whether OUR
lives truly live up to the sacrifices that liberty demanded
of so many men and WOMEN. We must ask ourselves if those are
just names on a wall, just a field of white crosses, or if
those were people who laid down their lives in defense of
something greater. Liberty, unity, freedom, these are the
stars and stripes we live by and these people, I say ALL who
have worn the colours of this great nation, have sacrificed
to preserve these for future generations.
While we lay our heads to rest and prepare for another work
week to begin. While we sit in traffic and complain about
the driver that cut us off or any one of the five million
trivialities that we fill our minds with. Why don't we pause,
just for a moment and look around. Why don't we stop and see
the ragged old man sleeping on the park bench, wrapped in
his army coat, his silver star still pinned neatly to his
lapel and remember that these are our ghosts. We did not make
them, but we inherited them just as we inherited the blanket
of freedom they provided. Ironic, isn't it? We have the blanket
to keep us warm, yet a disproportionate number of war veterans
sleep in the streets with no blankets of their own. They gave
theirs up for us.
Yes, maybe it's "liberal". But if honouring those who still
fight our wars; those who never left the battlefield, save
for in body alone, is "liberal", then I wear that silver star
on my lapel proudly and will proclaim it from the rooftops.
Leaving our veterans in the streets to rot destroys what they
fought for and only shows that we have NO respect for their
sacrifice, we have NO honour to us at all. Perhaps, unless
we decide to change our hearts and minds, we would be better
off without that blanket of freedom since many of us seem
to take it so much for granted. Perhaps some of us should
spend a night in the cold for a change.
The walking wounded and the living dead surround us. They
are the ghosts of wars past and we should honour them in much
the same way we honour those who came home to parades and
jubilations. It's time we shared the blanket with those who
help provide it to us. It's time we brought the dead back
to life. It's time we treated the wounds of the walking. We
owe them that much and more than we could ever repay. Most
of all, we have to search our own hearts and ask ourselves
if we are living up to their sacrifice. Are we?