I am not a soldier. I am a patriot. When I watch Medal of Honor awardee’s tell their stories or see the “Old Guard” in their never-ending watch, I am whelmed – and if I hear taps, I am overwhelmed and brought near tears.
I vigorously support my country and will defend it against enemies or detractors.
I wasn’t around when the American Whigs violently rebelled against British control during the American Revolution and in July 1776 declared the United States of America an independent nation. I honor and cherish those men and women that, for whatever reason, rejected the way things were and embraced something new.
Human beings are messy creatures. We have these habits, behaviors and tendencies that when mixed with social and emotional forces produce upheaval. This upheaval is often terribly destructive. Throw in some righteousness, and you’ve got a recipe for suffering on a massive scale. In many ways, human beings visit disaster on themselves at levels comparable to that of a giant meteor slamming into the planet, or some other extinction level event.
As dangerous as we are to one another – we’re still proliferating.
At this point in my life, I’m cynical enough to feel like there’s really not much to be done – the human race is headed in the direction it’s been heading, and there’s no changing its course. Anyone claiming otherwise, or suggesting they have the best course for us is either a hippy of a right-wing nutball. Please don’t misunderstand me – I like hippies, and I like some right-wing nutballs. I just don’t trust folks that are telling me they know where THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE has been, or where it’s going, or where it should go.
However, put me in the same room with someone who has won the Medal of Honor, and they will have my undivided attention. And though I won’t agree with them just because of what they’ve done, I will honor them and give their opinions greater weight than just about anyone else.
To me, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier symbolizes a commitment to honoring our mighty dead. Recognizing the sacrifice of the fallen, and offering a salute to those countless men and women who have given their lives in a righteous cause. Interestingly, though the tomb is a place for the dead, it’s significance is largely designed to effect the living. This I think is a key. The dead inform the living. We are standing on the shoulders of giants, whether we know who they were or not… and those giants, large and small, can guide us and help make us better people, a better country, a better world.