Saturday, May 25, 2013

In Silent Witness

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row...

The stones stand in silent witness.

"Dress Right, Dress!" 

"Cover Down."


"All present and accounted for, Sir."

Soldiers in eternal formation, far from home, awaiting orders from the Commander.

They came here from factories and fields, from small town, large city, and every place in between. But they came.

The rich came in spite of their riches, the poor because of their poverty.

Some eagerly volunteered. Others were drafted. A few enlisted to avoid nasty consequences involving the law. But, by whatever means and circumstances, they came.

They learned the trade of soldier, of sailor, of airman, and marine. Those who came seeking adventure learned of boredom; those who sought action, the frustration of "Hurry up and wait". Those who sought glory, the horror of battle.

There were gung-ho and gold bricks, good soldiers and goof-offs, leaders and followers alike. As in life, there were those who made things happen, those watched things happen and those who stood around asking "What happened?" And there were always ten percent who never got the word.

Whether or not they ever knew one another, they are now brothers, forever bound together by circumstances and events not of their own making.

In far off places, in Arlington, Virginia, in military cemeteries, in church yards across the nation and in sites forgotten by all except God, their stones stand in silent witness.

To them, we owe a debt of gratitude.

To them, we owe our lives and the life of this nation.

To them, we owe our present days and our children's future years.

Of the entire year, this weekend is set aside to remember and honor those to whom the stones stand in silent witness.

How can we remember, how honor, how repay their sacrifice?

How can we try?

How will you this weekend?

(Originally Published in May 2013)

Friday, May 10, 2013

What Difference Does It Make?

In testimony before the Senate committee investigating the attack on the US installation and annex in Benghazi in Libya that resulted in the death of US Ambassador Stephens and three other Americans, then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton responded to a question with the following statement:

"With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or because some guys out for a walk one night decided to kill some Americans?

What difference at this point does it make?

It is our job at this point to figure out and do everything we can to prevent it from happening again."

Secretary Clinton is correct in her statement that it our job to figure out and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.

Her statement that the cause of the "protest", now known to be a terrorist attack, makes no difference is despicable. Her implication that the death of four Americans "at this point" makes no difference is deeply offensive. And emerging facts showing Americans in harm's way denied possible aid is a national outrage.

I am sorry, Madam Secretary, but even at this point it makes a considerable difference to me, to the families of the four dead, and to the citizens of the nation.

It's a matter of national character.

Americans do not abandon Americans in harm's way fighting for their lives. Americans instinctively run to the sound of the guns.

Americans do not deny support to their comrades in arms even if such support may prove to little or too late.

Neither do Americans do less than all possible to secure vulnerable positions. The life of even one American official in a foreign country is more important than the approbation of ten thousand locals.

It is more in the American nature to attempt big things against seemingly insurmountable odds and to triumph than to give up the attempt without trying.

Madam Secretary, you are wrong. You severely misjudge the Nation you were representing.

We have four dead Americans and that makes all the difference in the world.