Today we honor not only our brave troops who serve our country at all times, but those who have lost their lives defending what we stand for.
Regardless of our feeling about the current war in Iraq, this day is to honor those from all wars who have performed their duties and lost their lives doing so. I'm proud of every single one of them, and mourn the fact that so many have died doing their jobs.
My Dad was in World War II, and while he didn't see actual combat (he was part of an engineering squadron), he witnessed many bombings during his flights. Somewhere I have pictures that he took of bombs being dropped in France and Belgium. It always seemed to be so distant to see those pictures; surreal, maybe even unreal.
As a veteran, he had a military funeral when he died in October 2005, with a flag-draped coffin, a lone soldier playing Taps, and the flag folded and presented to my brothers and me. It was touching seeing these soldiers taking this task so seriously, spending time to celebrate a war veteran's life, and how graciously and respectfully they folded the flag and presented it to us. Surprisingly, we were all solemn but fairly unemotional as the trumpeter played Taps ... but watching them respectfully fold our flag, and the words they spoke to us when they presented it to us - that's when my brothers and I started crying. It truly seemed to be an honor to them to do this for a fellow soldier.
I can't imagine having to witness such a funeral for someone who dies in combat, usually at a young age and leaving a young family behind. But they have all died doing what they believed in, and I'm thankful for that in the very least.
And in my video-mode of late, an appropriate video of Ray Charles' "America the Beautiful" - which, in my modest opinion, should be our national anthem. "God done shed His grace on thee".
Bless them all.