Memorial Day

  1. Monday, May 26, 2003

    THE LIST WAS mercifully short by the standards of modern warfare but the pain no less intense for families around the country. Their names evoke the many places and peoples that make up their nation: Sgt. Troy David Jenkins, Capt. James F. Adamouski, Lance Cpl. Jesus A. Gonzalez, Cpl. Kemaphoom A. Chanawongse, Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker, Staff Sgt. Scott D. Sather.

    For some it wasn't even entirely their country -- those who, for one reason or another, had not become citizens. Like many others deserving honor today, all fell in places strange to them: Najaf, Baghdad, Karbala. Pfc. Lori Piestewa died in Nasiriyah when a supply convoy was ambushed. Pfc. Diego Fernando Rincon was killed by a car bomb north of Najaf. Spec. Brandon J. Rowe died under Iraqi artillery fire at a place called Ayyub.

    The first Memorial Day followed on America's bloodiest conflict, the Civil War. More soldiers died in a moment or two at Antietam, Gettysburg or Fredericksburg than have fallen all of this spring in Iraq. But there is a rough and final equality among every one of the dead from then to now. They died before their time, much of their promise unrealized, and in the service of their country. Lincoln at Gettysburg uttered a string of negatives -- "we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground" -- to express our inability to ever fully understand or recognize sacrifice of this degree.

    But he did suggest that we ought to at least make the attempt. It's been many Memorial Days -- usually nice, inviting ones when the pools and the coolers beckon -- since this country felt mortally threatened. The horrors of the 20th century are receding into distant memory -- though 9/11 brought some new ones. Despite the subsequent wars and orange alerts, the call to duty and service remains distant and unreal to many. As we enter summer, read the list from this spring and be reminded that, for some among us, it was neither.

    2003 The Washington Post Company

  2. 1 Comments

  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    Thank you funnygirl.