As I write this it is Memorial Day 2011. It has so far been a year of triumphs and tragedies and both need to be remembered this day.
We've seen our service men finally bring Osama bin Laden to justice — but we've also seen the tragedies of the tornadoes which ripped across the south killing more than 300 and the EF-5 tornado which blasted a 14 mile swath of destruction across Joplin, killing more than 140 people and injuring at least 1,000.
On this day of remembrance let us remember the heroes of that day just over a week ago, as well as the victims. Let us take a little bit out of our day of grilling and swimming to remember the lost.
Let us remember those lives which were snuffed out too early in a few minutes of terror on that warm spring night in Joplin, Missouri.
Let us also remember the lives which have been spent over the years so that this great nation can remain free.
We always hear "freedom is not free," this is true, but we rarely think of the bill. As our military has become all volunteer and more and more professional it has also become more divorced from everyday life. We rarely think of the men and women who have given up years of their lives in order to protect us, those "rough men" who as George Orwell said "stand ready to do violence so we may sleep soundly."
We have spent blood and treasure many times over the years in order to defend not just this nation but freedom itself. It is a terrible price but one which must be paid.
In Joplin, the blood does not defend freedom but it is just as sacred as the blood of patriots who water the tree of liberty.
The dead in Joplin and the patriots who even as I write this labor to rebuild represent the best of America. The stories of Joplin are incredible. It is impossible, even with all the media who are in the area to tell all of them. I was there within a half hour or so of the tornado and already people had chainsaws and front-end loaders out trying to clear the streets. The entire Four States and indeed the entire nation responded. Some of those same patriots who were preparing to put their lives on the line in Afghanistan found themselves in Joplin risking their lives to find the missing.
Memorial Day should be a day, not to grill out or go to the lake — but a day to remember those who have gone before, not just in the service but all those we have lost.
Let us grieve for them, but only for a season, secure in the knowledge we will see them again.
I leave you with the words of Rudyard Kipling's "The Widower." He said so much so well and far better than I ever could.
For a season there must be pain
For a little, little space
I shall lose 'the sight of her face,
Take back the old life again
While She is at rest in her place.
For a season this pain must endure,
For a little, little while
I shall sigh more often than smile
Till Time shall work me a cure,
And the pitiful days beguile.
For that season we must be apart,
For a little length of years,
Till my life's last hour nears,
And, above the beat of my heart,
I hear Her voice in my ears.
But I shall not understand -
Being set on some later love,
Shall not know her for whom I strove,
Till she reach me forth her hand,
Saying, 'Who but I have the right?' .
And out of a troubled night
Shall draw me safe to the land.