I’ve never been to Disney.
Certainly it wasn’t for my lack of want. After hearing all my friends rave about how awesome their trips to Disney World or Land were, I wanted to go just once. My parents would have none of it, though. They thought, if you want to go to a theme park, we’ll just go to Six Flags. So yeah. 28 and I’ve never been to Disney.
Instead, every summer we’d pack up our car and head east/northeast and visit historical sites. Monticello, Civil War battle fields, Mount Vernon, Ford Theater…you name it, chances are I’ve been to it. I enjoyed visiting the battle fields, although after a while I got sick of going through all the houses.
By far, the most humbling place I’ve ever been to had to have been Arlington National Cemetery. If you have not been there, I highly suggest you do so next time you’re in the D.C. area. Even though I was 12, I couldn’t help but be moved by row after row of row of headstone, all in alignment, as if each man and woman were called back for one final formation. It was around this time that my true appreciation of history began to develop.
I hate, absolutely hate, when people fail to pay attention to history. It’s in the past, they say. What happened then has no impact on now. These are typically people who will then tell you story after story about their lives and what they’ve done to validate how awesome they are. It’s unfortunate that they fail to mind exactly how they got here, and I can’t help but wonder if a hundred years from now they’d be fine with their legacies being forgotten. “Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am a part of mankind. Therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
I have probably over two dozen friends and family who are currently serving in the armed forces, and I’m fortunate enough that every one has thus far returned home safely. I hope for the return of every one of them, as well as for the safe return of everyone serving abroad. Both my grandfathers served, as well as several uncles. One of my most treasured possessions is the memoirs written by one of my uncles who came ashore on Normandy in the second wave. Typewritten, it has his full narrative of his time served in the war as well as pictures of wherever he went. He passed it on to me months before he died a few years ago, and I’ll hold on to it as long as I can.
This nation was founded upon the principles of freedom and equality, but it was built upon the backs and sacrifices of those who served the nation in its greatest times of need. I have never served in the military, and I’m grateful for the fact that I have not had to thus far.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to see the movie Taking Chance, I highly recommend you do so. It’s based on the true story of Lt. Col. Strobl, who is given the assignment of escorting the body of PFC Chance Phelps home for burial. It’s one of the few movies I’ve ever gotten emotional watching. One of the most moving scenes for me took place toward the end of the film, as the hearse was driving down a narrow highway with Strobl driving behind. Anyone who’s been in a funeral procession knows the cars in line turn their headlights on to signal to others they’re part of the procession. As Strobl looks on to the cars passing by…well, just watch. (You can skip to around the 2:40 mark for the part I’m talking about.)
On behalf of everyone at ReviewSTL, we hope you have a terrific weekend. Spend it with family and friends; just don’t forget the reason for the holiday. To those who sacrificed everything, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. – Abraham Lincoln