Saying Thanks at Memorial Day
Last year I was at a family event and began to search the crowd. I soon realized with family and extended family more than fifty young people between the ages of eighteen and thirty were represented. Only one, my son, a Marine, who at the time was deployed to Afghanistan, was serving or had served in the military. I wondered if these young people truly understood the sacrifices others have made so they could celebrate their freedoms.
George Orwell is credited with saying, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” Whether he said it or not, I believe in the sentiment. I am so thankful for the men and women willing “to stand in the gap” and protect the sheep from the wolves. My heroes are those who, as Marines are taught, run to the sound of gun fire: the first responders; the federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel, the foot soldiers in the war against crime and terror within our borders; and our servicemen and women fighting the battle overseas.
Certainly the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been recognized with more honor than those who returned from Vietnam decades earlier but do we appreciate what is being done daily by the few who are serving the many?
The numbers in recent history don’t accurately reflect the sacrifices made. To date, more than 5,000 American servicemen and women have paid the ultimate price in the War on Terror. In Vietnam, it was 58,260; Korea 36,576; World War II 416,800. Yet men and women also returned with broken bodies and broken lives.
I recently spoke to the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Balboa Naval Hospital. My debut novel ENEMIES AMONG US tracks the efforts of an undercover FBI agent combating terrorism in America. My publisher, Oliver North, provided me with enough books to give each man a copy; our way of saying thanks. They deserve so much more. I stood before approximately fifty combat wounded Marines; some amputees, some suffering from traumatic brain injury, some devastating wounds from IEDs and rocket propelled grenades. Each will live with the scars for a lifetime. Yet each is a volunteer. Each willingly took an oath “to protect and defend” our Constitution, to allow us to sleep under the blanket of freedom.
As we look to this Memorial Day weekend, sure it’s ball games, picnics, hot dogs, and apple pie, but take a few minutes to remember those who ran to the “sound of gun fire.” Thank God for those who died to keep this nation free, for those who served, and for those who continue to serve.
Author of ENEMIES AMONG US and THE LAST UNDERCOVER
Veteran FBI undercover agent and former Marine