|(Entrance to American Cemetery at Luxembourg)|
Last year we boarded a bus took us to the little country of Luxembourg. The heart of that country bears the country's name: Luxembourg City. On the edge of town we came to a huge cemetery. 17 acres. We looked out on a sea of crosses. 5,076 American service members are buried there. Many of these mostly men lost their lives in one of the largest battle of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge. It was one of the last turning points in defeating Germany. General Patton had set up his headquarters there. The people in that bombed-out fearful town rejoiced at what General Patton and his men had done. After the war ended the town wanted to erect a statue near the city center but Patton's widow said no. "Let the monument be his grave", she said. And she had a further demand. "Bury him not at the front of the graves but at the back. The soldiers did most of the work even though he led the charge".
Over 405,399 of our service people died in World War II. The total of the men and women who have died in every war we participated in is 2,852,901. The VA saw more than 5.9 million veterans in 2015.
Let us stop today and remember our fallen. Most of us know someone who either died in the service or served for our country. On Memorial Day many of them can be seen hobbling along wearing a cap that states the vessel or the war they served in. So--we also need to think of all those who came home. Some broken and crippled and many with enormous mental problems. The families they returned to should not be forgotten. Many of them have shouldered an enormous burden.
Our country is at war with itself these days. Some politicians use veterans as a manipulative tool for their own purposes. When they shout: "Veterans" people stop and listen for the moment. Then we turn to other things in our lives. The best gift we could give these that lie in some grave and those that serve or have served is to make sure that we as people live up to the dreams of all those that love this country.
Let us remember the Statue of Liberty and the promise it still holds for people around the world. Let us remember that everyone in this country should feel safe. Whether we talk of budgets or health care--Memorial Day is a time to tip our hats to all those living or dead that have served us. It is an occasion to recommit ourselves to stretching the word American until it is large and free and hopeful for all.
"Some say God caught them even before they fell."
--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette/blogspot.com