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Voices from the Grave
Stand sometime on the sands of any beach where men have died; and try not to cry.
It's not possible.
Heroic deeds by scared young men have dotted the battlefields of this world. Men who gave up dreams of youth for a cold grave in a distant land. Most got no fancy funeral with horse drawn caisson; muffled drums or fired salute. Most didn't get a tearful good bye; a loved one sobbing on the dirt that holds their bodies tight; they got just a fresh dug grave; a dog tag stuck between their teeth and hurried ground thrown down upon them. Just a number on a cross and if they were lucky a blessing from a chaplain who had blessed scores before and would bless hundreds more. Just the coldness of death, dying for a grateful nation and for the liberties that we think commonplace but are more the exception than the rule.
Go stand at National cemetery, and listen. Listen for the voices that talk to those that will hear them. They call out to generations that have come after and are still to come. They sing in unison; a chorus begging not to be forgotten. A plea to all they left behind. Not to have died in vain. To have died for something and someone.
Ask them at Normandy, Gettysburg; Saipan, Corrigedor, Bellau Wood, Sharpsburg; Valley Forge, Ia Drang and Hue, Mogadishu and Kafgi ... Baghdad Why ?
So others won't have too; they died so their sons won't have to go. They died for their buddies; they landed on a grenade meant for others. They died in explosions they never heard. With a bayonet stuck in the stomach; with nightmarish anguish. They burned alive in flaming airplanes. They died in accidents that should never have happened. They drowned in ships across the faceless oceans in places without markers or memorials.
They died that others might not have to follow them into the same bloody cauldron. They died for a peaceful nation. Those are the voices that you hear, on the beach, at the memorials, at the graves .... saying ....
" If I must die in battle then let me fall victoriously" ed.
Kent M. Herrick ... 2003
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