Do we better honor those who have sacrificed in the past with lapel pin and facebook status displays of patriotism, or by clinging to the rights for which they have died?
Do we honor their sacrifice by remaining complacent as more are sent to fight and die for no good purpose? As they are sent "around the world seeking dragons to slay?"
Do we truly show our respect by refusing to recognize the distinction between defensive wars for the preservation of our homeland, and aggressive wars fought to expand and preserve an empire?
Do we show our appreciation for those who have died for our freedom by refusing, out of a sense of patriotism or an ignorance of history, to use that freedom to speak out against the evils of war?
Surely, many have made that ultimate sacrifice in a desire to bring war to an end; with the hope that their conflict would be the last, that their children might not have to face the cruelty of a battlefield. What dishonor we heap upon them if we refuse every effort to honor that request, or hear their message!
Veteran's Day always reminds me of Wilfred Owen, was a British soldier and poet. He began writing poetry while recovering from wounds sustained in the first World War. He returned to the trenches and was killed in an artillery barrage. His words are more poignant for this fact.
Dulce et Decorum est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! -- An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. --
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.