Nation’s heroes often serve in silence

Published 10:29 am Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day is the reminder of a culture of citizen heroes.

They serve us all, most often in silence.

They are the young men and women who have given so much for so many, the 1 percent of our population who offer up their potential, their all, in the service of the rest of us.

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Their offering sometimes ends in the silence of a stone in the ground marking their ultimate sacrifice.

They are our sons and daughters, of whom we looked into their eyes and once saw the great promise of a future. The children who graced our lives and enriched us by their very presence, by their trials, their smiles, their hardships and their triumphs.

They are our husbands and our wives, our partners in life. The men and women who chose to dedicate their energy and vitality to another, to companions who were made more by their sharing of all that is a promise of a future. They shared with us those future plans, forever altered by the outcomes of war, of service and sacrifice.

They are the fathers and mothers of children who smile up at us, look to us for everything from Christmas toys to hugs that hold an embrace of love. Parents that carry with them photos of those who wait behind, of those they fight to protect, of those who capture their thoughts at moments of every day in the field and the barracks.

They are the brothers and sisters who colored and shaped our lives with their taunting and teasing, their loyalty and love, their sibling bond that cannot be broken, even by death.

They are the friends who have shared places and times with us, who have suffered and won and lost beside us, who have cheered and cried with us, and who have stood faithfully by us in all times of our lives.

They are the band of brothers and sisters who live together in their service, who trust each other in the deepest, richest ways.

The troops whose loyalty to each other goes far beyond the uniform they wear and the flag they honor. They would and will give their lives for the men and women who stand beside them in combat.

And, sometimes, they are called upon to serve us in silence.

Memorial Day was first celebrated in 1868, in recognition of those who gave their all in the war of the States.

While there two ideas of how our nation would grow, the prevailing idea from the sacrifice of so many Americans was one of national unity, a gift to us today from those who grew silent from their contribution.

Many have given their lives, many have suffered injuries, in a form of service many nations never experience. For in America we never wonder if our forces will be loyal or faithful to our nation, for they are us.

This year let us resolve to take the time to attend the Memorial Day parade. Let us find the time to place flowers from our gardens on those who now serve in silence.

Let us commit to bear gifts to the families of those who serve today around the world in the 88 countries where our men and women are in uniform.

This year let us all know that they who have served still serve us, for their sacrifice has given us this time, and these freedoms. They were and are patriots first, partisans last.

Though they sometimes now serve in silence, they serve us heroically.

Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Tribune and a former educator at Ohio University Southern.