by Michael Tomlin
On Friday, November 11th, we honor them all. War heroes and the more common “snuffys”, who “merely served". Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, it is all of those. We remember our veterans who have stood between us and those who wish us harm, as they have done since this Country was just a dream, and we remember those who remain on watch today.
Many who served made the ultimate sacrifice, dying in mud or sand, in frozen forests, or on the great seas of this world. And a better writer than me penned “death be not proud". But service is. Keeping the faith is. Semper fi, or “Always Faithful” is proud and we are proud of all who served. This week we honor them.
In 1915, Canadian Army Officer, John McCrae, wrote the poem “In Flanders Fields", which recognizes the sacrifice, and in part says:
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Of those who lived on, some became Presidents, or captains of industry. Others work as teachers or in law enforcement, and some sell paint, or build roads. They are men and women among us everywhere. They are also on the streets and disproportionately in our food kitchens and homeless shelters.
Walking the paths at Arlington National Cemetery, or viewing the 58,198 names on the “The Wall” in Washington, D.C. are quiet reminders of the cost of our daily freedoms. My sister lives next to the Chickamauga, (Georgia) Civil War Battlefield, and a day there on horseback is a history lesson about men and courage.
Courage also is Major Bernard Fisher, entering the Air Force from little Kuna, Idaho, and winning the Medal of Honor, in 1966, flying in support of a Special Forces camp in the A Shau Valley, just off the Laos border. His mission and exploits are storybook heroic, yet it is stepping forward and joining the service that we honor first and foremost. All vets, all levels of service, all contributions. None are insignificant.
Just a few days ago, we lost veteran Pat Takasugi, to appendix cancer. He was only 62 years old, an Army veteran and a founding member of Idaho’s Special Forces Association Chapter, my Chapter, as we meet monthly for pizza and good fellowship. Pat Takasugi continued to serve our nation as a farmer, legislator, and through quiet leadership in many endeavors. On Friday, we will honor his military service, and fittingly, family and friends will lay him to rest.
De Oppresso Liber
[Parts of this essay have been previously published by the author on previous Veterans’ Days]