Thursday, June 15, 2006

Service, Honor, Courage

I want to share with you some quotes:

"Courage, honor, dedication, sacrifice -- these are just the words they used to get you here. Now the only word that means a damn to you is life -- yours, your buddy's. The one certainty in war is that in an hour, maybe two, you'll either still be alive or you'll be dead." -- T.C. McQueen

When I first heard these words (the opening scenes from the TV show Space: Above and Beyond) I remembered what I used to say as an Air Traffic Controller in the Air Force: 7 1/2 hours of boredom punctuated by 30 minutes of sheer terror.

But it wasn't until Saving Private Ryan that I could put a finger on what about S:AB resonated.

Miller's last words to Ryan — "earn this" — haunt Ryan for the rest of his life.

The Captain, Miller goes through several sets of emotions: fear, anger, revenge, frustration and finally, in those last words, he seems to understand that it is the personal sacrifice that is the issue.

Our troops from Vietnam suffered, what they wanted to know was that we understood and valued that suffering. Most did not. Worse, they considered the suffering of the troops self inflicted and selfish. When Ryan turned to his family and asked if he had been a good man, he wanted to know that he earned the gift that Miller and the others gave him....his life...did he use it wisely?

Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan want to know the same thing: is our sacrifice noted, is it valued? Or is it being throw away, dismissed, demeaned? For many shrill voices, despite their claims of support for the troops, the answer is "your sacrifice is in vain, worthless as the blood you spill".

I state clearly for you, your sacrifice is not in vain, it is not worthless, and many Afghans and Iraqis will spend most of their lives trying to live up to the sacrifice you make. And a great many of your fellow Americans consider your gift priceless and honorable.

I leave you with a final quote from S:AB:

"Loyalty can't be tested by questions and answers. True loyalty can only be demonstrated through the display of manifest actions, often defiant, when confronted by insurmountable obstacles in the form of confrontational and irrational enemies." -- Cooper Hawkes

Today, six senators proved their disloyalty to you, count well that it was only 6

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