Monday, September 22, 2003

The Lesson

Lileks turned me on to this one, but didn't link. James, James! Specificity is the soul of credibility!

Anyway, read this story about those fine examples of humanity, the folks who guard the tomb of the unknowns in Arlington National cemetery. They were offered the chance to bug out when Isabel was barreling down on Virginia.

Thanks, but no thanks, was their reply.

In essence, these guys were willing to sacrifice their lives to guard some dust brought back from overseas. I'm not going to make a point about how great this country is because these men were willing to stand guard at the tomb. Because if you read the story, and the quote from the ringleader of the decision to stay behind, it had nothing at all to do with this country. It had everything to do with the anonymous soldiers buried under the granite.

"Did they volunteer? Did they get drafted? How did they die? They did their job and this country paid them back by not remembering who they were ...."

The humanity in this statement is overwhelming. I feel honored to be guarded by men and women who believe as such. At the end of this war, when the forces of civilization have triumphed, it will have been not because of the strength of our armies, or the superiority of our technology, but because of the human heart that beats within each and every American, British, Polish, and, yes, French and German man and woman. It is because of the clearly apparent superiority of a culture that places value in an individual, and regards each human life as sacred.

We may not win this war for a long, long time. There will be more events that will shock and depress us. We have much work to do on the homefront as well; taking on a "Fifth Column" within that forgets the ascendancy of our nations is because of our trust and respect in the individual. Those that forget; they that revel in power, control, and disrespect for inconvenient life (the unborn, the aged, the powerless), those that forget must be reminded. Gently, and with love. One gesture at a time. One lesson at a time. Lessons given by the most unlikely of teachers, like a member of the Old Guard who refuses to leave his post: not because the charnal remains he protects are those of American soldiers -- but because they are those of another human being.

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