"The brave die never, though they sleep in dust: Their courage nerves a thousand living men."
-- Minot J. Savage
Before we headed off into another "Endless Summer" of barbecues, drive-in movies and ice cream, we paused collectively on Monday to remember and honor those killed in wars (a total that now stands at more than 1.3 million) defending our country and our freedoms.
Cemeteries in this area were alive with the colors of hundreds of American flags decorating graves -- a proud remembrance of those who had served but are now gone.
Whether we attended one of the many Memorial Day programs in the area, or held our private commemoration in our heart, we remembered.
One day of the year is not enough to remember the sacrifice of those who served, nor the sacrifice of their families as they watched them go off to war.
President Barack Hussein Obama is not the first U.S. President to be absent from the national tradition of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider in Arlington National Cemetery. Several of his recent predecessors -- both of the Bushes and Ronald Reagan -- were out of town for various reasons on various Memorial Days. Obama did observe the day by starting his remarks in a thunderstorm at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, conveniently near his holiday golf destination in Chicago. He finished his speech at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington.
I guess we should just take solace in the fact that the president was back in Washington in time for a White House tribute to Paul McCartney on Wednesday evening.
Vice-President Joseph Biden substituted for the President at Arlington on Monday. Some would say this was an empty honor after Biden noted a couple of weeks ago that Brussels, not our own capital city, should hold the title of "capital of the free world."
Somewhere along the way, too many of our current crop of politicians lost the notion that we were a great country. They said we were "arrogant," they apologized because we made "mistakes" and they bowed before the world, practically rending their garments as if to say "We are not worthy to be the leaders of the free world."
Can they make these declarations in good conscience to the memory of the 45,000 who died in the War of Independence and the War of 1812? Or the 407,000 who didn't return home from World War II? Can they stand before the brothers and sisters, fathers and Gold Star mothers and make these same remarks?
Should the Commander-in-Chief of 1.4 million current active duty and 850,000 reserve soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen make his numerous pronouncements of the subservience of our nation to the world?
Our honored dead who we remembered on Monday do not deserve the condemnation of our nation -- a great nation that we know deserves to be defended without remorse or regret.
Have a safe, fun and memorable summer. And, next time you throw a burger on the grill, remember to say a prayer for those that have fought for your freedom to enjoy that lowly burger, among many other things.