Tillman widow reveals written gifts of love from friendly-fire war hero

When Pat Tillman was deployed to Iraq for the first time, he did something he had done throughout his love affair with his wife, Marie — he wrote her a letter.

Except this one was never meant to be read.

It sat through two deployments on the bedroom dresser, eventually buried under piles of receipts and greeting cards.

Then, during Pat’s tour in Afghanistan, Marie got the news she had long feared. Her husband would never be coming home.

That night, she crept to the bedroom dresser, unearthed the letter and opened it.

She immediately recognized his familiar scrawl. The pages were a mess of ink and scribble. There were words and whole sentences crossed out.

She closed her eyes before reading his words:

“It’s difficult to summarize 10 years together, my love for you, my hopes for your future, and pretend to be dead all at the same time . . . I simply cannot put all this into words. I’m not ready, willing or able.”

Still in shock, Marie had not cried since she heard the news of her husband’s death. Reading his words, she wept.

Marie thought of the hundreds of letters that they had shared during their 11-year relationship — an affair she chronicles in her book “The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss, & Life” (Grand Central) out Tuesday.

Read more here.

Today’s PC police would arrest Abe Lincoln for sedition

By: Douglas MacKinnon

During his first inaugural address in 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously but inaccurately claimed that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Leaving aside the fact that 77 years later, many of Roosevelt’s socialist leanings serve as a roadmap for President Obama, the inescapable reality of 2010 is that the only thing we have to fear is political unaccountability, an unethical media, liberal judicial activists, and those among us who want and demand something for nothing.

If you are a citizen who still believes in traditional values and the need for a free, strong and secure America, then it’s well past the time to make your voice heard.

At the risk of being accused of inciting sedition by ultra-wealthy, far-left “journalist” Joe Klein, I would stress if not now, when? If not you, who?

As an aside to Klein, who apparently, as he runs around purposely twisting the words of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, by claiming they come “dangerously close to incitement to violence,” has never read the writings of well-known seditionists Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

To that very point, Lincoln once said, “this country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.”

Sacrilege. Had Lincoln uttered those very words today, Klein, the editorial board of The New York Times, and the inhabitants of the West Wing would have called for his imprisonment.

More than imprisonment, all but confirmed Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan would have stated Lincoln’s belief deserved no First Amendment protection.

That assumption being based on the liberal Kagan’s own words who has chillingly said in the past, “Whether a given category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs.”

While Chief Justice Roberts called Kagan’s argument “startling and dangerous,” the mainstream media has done all in its power to keep this totalitarian declaration from the American people.

Beyond liberal judicial activism and the propagandists for the far-left in the media, our welfare, security, and very existence are being threatened by elected officials from both sides of the aisle who see the rapidly descending blade and purposefully ignore it as they suicidally focus on their own selfish needs.

Were it not for the fact they are about to take the rest of us with them, their extinction would be a welcome relief.

To ensure the demise of our once great nation, we are also being assaulted by an unimaginable and lethal U.S. debt combined with the out-of-control salaries and pensions of local, state, and federal employees and the unions who seek to protect and grow that money at any cost.

As one county employee in Maryland recently told me, “As long as I get mine, I honestly don’t care about the rest of the country.”

While we all now recognize that Los Angeles and California are the Athens and Greece of the United States, we need to understand that they are but the poster children for what is about to befall us.

On a recent trip to Miami, I was disturbed but not shocked to find out that while the median income for the hardworking citizens of that city is about $26,000, the median income of the city employees is about $76,000. Triple that of those who pay their salaries.

Worse, thanks to union threats and liberal leaders, almost 100 city workers in that all but bankrupt city “earned” over $200,000. Can you say “unsustainable?”

Roosevelt was wrong, as are all today who believe in something for nothing. It’s not fear we have to worry about.

It’s the minority among us who deliberately steal, lie, brainwash our children, and leave our borders and nation unprotected, that we have to not only shield ourselves from, but defeat before it’s too late.

That is the calling for the majority. Let us hope it does not fall on deaf or compromised ears.

Obama Risks a Domestic Military Intervention

Here is the full text of John L. Perry’s column on Newsmax which suggests that a military coup to “resolve the Obama problem” is becoming more possible and is not “unrealistic.” Perry also writes that a coup, while not “ideal,” may be preferable to “Obama’s radical ideal” — and would “restore and defend the Constitution.” Newsmax has since removed the column from its website.

Obama Risks a Domestic Military Intervention

By: John L. Perry

There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America’s military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the “Obama problem.” Don’t dismiss it as unrealistic.

America isn’t the Third World. If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized. That it has never happened doesn’t mean it wont. Describing what may be afoot is not to advocate it. So, view the following through military eyes:

# Officers swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Unlike enlisted personnel, they do not swear to “obey the orders of the president of the United States.”

# Top military officers can see the Constitution they are sworn to defend being trampled as American institutions and enterprises are nationalized.

# They can see that Americans are increasingly alarmed that this nation, under President Barack Obama, may not even be recognizable as America by the 2012 election, in which he will surely seek continuation in office.

# They can see that the economy — ravaged by deficits, taxes, unemployment, and impending inflation — is financially reliant on foreign lender governments.

# They can see this president waging undeclared war on the intelligence community, without whose rigorous and independent functions the armed services are rendered blind in an ever-more hostile world overseas and at home.

# They can see the dismantling of defenses against missiles targeted at this nation by avowed enemies, even as America’s troop strength is allowed to sag.

# They can see the horror of major warfare erupting simultaneously in two, and possibly three, far-flung theaters before America can react in time.

# They can see the nation’s safety and their own military establishments and honor placed in jeopardy as never before.

So, if you are one of those observant military professionals, what do you do?

Wait until this president bungles into losing the war in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s arsenal of nuclear bombs falls into the hands of militant Islam?

Wait until Israel is forced to launch air strikes on Iran’s nuclear-bomb plants, and the Middle East explodes, destabilizing or subjugating the Free World?

What happens if the generals Obama sent to win the Afghan war are told by this president (who now says, “I’m not interested in victory”) that they will be denied troops they must have to win? Do they follow orders they cannot carry out, consistent with their oath of duty? Do they resign en masse?

Or do they soldier on, hoping the 2010 congressional elections will reverse the situation? Do they dare gamble the national survival on such political whims?

Anyone who imagines that those thoughts are not weighing heavily on the intellect and conscience of America’s military leadership is lost in a fool’s fog.

Will the day come when patriotic general and flag officers sit down with the president, or with those who control him, and work out the national equivalent of a “family intervention,” with some form of limited, shared responsibility?

Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.

Military intervention is what Obama’s exponentially accelerating agenda for “fundamental change” toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama’s radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.

Unthinkable? Then think up an alternative, non-violent solution to the Obama problem. Just don’t shrug and say, “We can always worry about that later.”

In the 2008 election, that was the wistful, self-indulgent, indifferent reliance on abnegation of personal responsibility that has sunk the nation into this morass.

The Call for Obama to Resign: Gaining Steam with Military, Veterans?

The Stand Up America Blog
Lincoln Reagan Dinner
Published on 06/08/10

Virginia City, Montana, June 5th, 2010

By Paul E. Vallely

The Declaration of Independence states: “To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”

We cannot permit the current leaders in the White House and Halls of Congress to continue in their efforts to lead us down the road of Progressive Socialism and destruction of America. This is the current battle that we Constitutionalists face and we must be aggressive in our efforts. Incompetence, Deceit, Fraud, Corruption,

Dishonesty and Violation of the US Constitution and oaths of office of officials now come into play as relates to our National Character, National Security, Economy and the Nation’s well-being and is the rationale for resignations. Demand Resignation of derelict officials by the people of this country in now required.

Where is our Moral Compass?

The oath of office is simple and reads:

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

Sadly, we have seen them violate their oath. Fraud, lying, and corruption are rampant and some have engaged in treasonous activities, and they effectively thumb their noses at us and have sold you to the highest bidder.

The Articles of Confederation were replaced with the Constitution, which granted the federal government enough authority to cultivate, promote and secure the Blessings of Liberty. The balance of authority and individual liberty was understood. Power was confined to that which was enumerated in the Constitution with a certain and meaningful intent for check and balances.

Lincoln issued this warning in his inaugural address, “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one. This is a most valuable and sacred right – a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.” Being a representative republic, not a democracy, “rising up” means other than revolution by means of arms. The people must “rise up” from the grass roots across this great country as we think of the greater good of this and future generations. We are limited in the peaceful transfer of power…resignation, death, elections, and impeachment.

“We the People” have had enough. Enough is Enough. The Obama White House and identifiable Members of Congress are now on a progressive socialist, treasonous death march and are bankrupting and weakening the country. We have watched them violate their sacred oath of office. “We, the People” cannot wait for and solely rely on the next round of elections in November of this year. It is now and each day that these public servants must put the citizen’s interests above self-interest by resigning immediately.

Our so-called Representatives and Senators are more interested in party loyalty than performing their duties. So, do not expect them to resign en masse or be impeached. Therefore the “people” must decide. A civil uprising is brewing. We now must call for the immediate resignation of Barry Soetero (AKA President Barack Hussein Obama) …..based on Incompetence, Deceit, Fraud, Corruption, Dishonesty and Violation of the US Oath of Office and the Constitution.

And a call for a National Petition for new elections to select the next President of the United States of America must be initiated. We can wait no longer for a traditional change of Power and New Government.

Unforgivable

Christian Ashby, of Portland, Ore., holds an American flag that was vandalized outside of his home sometime late Saturday or early Sunday.

By Joshua Rhett Miller

From Oregon to Minnesota to Ohio, vandals trampled on Old Glory over the Memorial Day weekend. In one Ohio town alone, approximately 25 American flags were found set ablaze on Monday.

At least one national veterans group called for those responsible for the “shocking and reprehensible” acts of vandalism to be quickly arrested and prosecuted.

Police in Wooster, Ohio, were going door-to-door early Tuesday in search of the people who torched roughly 25 flags and flagpoles along Saunders Drive and Morgan Street, Capt. John Quicci said.

“They were set on fire,” Quicci told FoxNews.com, adding that an investigation is ongoing.

No suspects or motives had been identified, according to Quicci, who was unable to estimate damages to the 3-by-5-foot flags and the 10-foot metal poles placed outside of residents’ homes by the annual Wooster Rotary Parade of Flags project.

The people who torched the flags face charges of criminal damaging and arson, Quicci said.

“We’re treating this very seriously,” he said.

In Minneapolis, a fire was set late last week to an American flag hanging outside a Marine veteran’s home. The residence was spared and no injuries were reported, but the flag was destroyed.

Elizabeth Hawley said she found the ashes Thursday morning and called the act “very disturbing.” She said her husband is keeping his feelings reserved, but she knows he’s upset.

Hawley told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that she thinks the flag-burning was a random act of vandalism.

In Portland, Ore., Christian Ashby and his wife awoke Sunday to find their American flag torn down, covered in obscenities and burned outside their home, KPTV.com reported. Flying the flag has special meaning to his family, Ashby said.

“Well, we have some close relatives, especially my wife, who had a cousin who suffered from [post-traumatic stress disorder] and took his own life,” Ashby told the website. “So, we have some very dedicated family to veterans of the United States services. So, it means a lot to us to fly the flag.”

Ashby said a local man who served two tours in Vietnam loaned him another flag after posting news of the vandalism online.

Ryan Gallucci, a spokesman for AMVETS, a national organization representing 200,000 veterans, said he found the acts of vandalism “shocking and reprehensible,” particularly on Memorial Day weekend.

“We absolutely condemn it,” Gallucci told FoxNews.com. “Memorial Day is one of our country’s most significant holidays and a chance to honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. For someone to desecrate the American flag on Memorial Day, it’s unconscionable, it’s unforgivable.”

Gallucci called for quick closure to the ongoing investigations in at least three states.

“The people who are responsible for this need to be apprehended and held accountable for their actions,” he said. “We shouldn’t tolerate it, regardless of what the excuse is. We need to get to the bottom of it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Not yet time to play ‘Taps’ for America’s backbone

President Barack Obama stands as Mexican President Felipe Calderon speaks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington Wednesday, May 19, 2010. Notice the box near Calderon's feet. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

By: Gregory Kane

This Memorial Day, there’s one gravesite I’ll make sure to visit. The only problem is, I don’t know where it’s located.

But I’m sure the object of my search is definitely dead. That would be the thing I call the Great American Backbone. Remember when this nation, and its leaders, had backbone?

That backbone must be dead. How else do you explain Mexican President Felipe Calderon swaggering into Washington D.C. earlier this month, proclaiming Arizona’s law requiring cops to question those legally stopped about their immigration status “discriminatory,” and getting a standing ovation from some members of Congress?

How else do you explain the silence from most members of Congress after Calderon urged them to pass another law banning assault weapons, as if he had the business to presume to tell us how to run our country?

Calderon is the one who can’t get a handle on drug gangs waging a veritable insurrection in his country. You’d have thought those Democrats who cheered him on would have mentioned that, but they were too busy groveling.

It was the most craven display since Nation of Islam leader Min. Louis Farrakhan chumped members of the National Association of Black Journalists – at their own convention. That one happened in 1996.

The NABJ had invited Farrakhan as the keynote speaker. He spent most of his speech dissing the journalists, talking about how their “failure” to go to bat for him when the “white media” criticized him. After he got through telling them how worthless they were, the journalists rose to their feet and gave him a standing ovation.

I’m betting most of them were Democrats.

The nation’s leading Democrat, President Obama, was no better than those in Congress. After Calderon expressed his disapproval of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 during a press conference in the Rose Garden, Obama was quick to second the motion. Here’s what Obama should have said to Calderon:

“It’s inappropriate for you as a head of state to comment on our nation’s internal matters. Furthermore, Mr. Calderon, our nation liberalized its immigration laws considerably by passing the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965.

“The result has been an influx of immigrants from Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East that has transformed America into the most ethnically and racially diverse country in the world. Your country, on the other hand, has mostly Mexicans, and, compared to ours, a rather draconian immigration law.”

Yes, that’s what Obama should have told Calderon, and would have told him, if he had the backbone. But Americans who cast ballots in the presidential election of 2008 didn’t go for backbone. We went for change, hope and the audacity of hope. We had little use for backbone, and in Obama, we’ll never get it.

But my search for the gravesite of the Great American Backbone may be premature. Maybe it isn’t dead. Maybe it’s simply fled the Democratic Party and taken up residence in … Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.

It was Cornyn who chided both Calderon and Obama for the Mexican president’s stepping out of line with his comments. It was Cornyn who mustered the backbone to tell Mr. “We Send Back Them” that if he wants to be part of America’s debate about illegal immigration, then he’s more than welcome to move to this country and apply for citizenship.

When Obama and the rest of the nation’s Democrats were getting seconds and thirds of wuss juice, Cornyn was in the line getting an extra dose of backbone. I hope he has enough to spread around to the Democrats.

Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

Standing with Heroes

By Lance Fairchok

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and respect for those who have given their lives for the freedoms that bless this nation. Most Americans no longer visit memorials and cemeteries; our nation’s wars do not touch them except for quick sound bites on the news. Fewer still actually know a service member or understand the sacrifices they make with their service, the time away from home and family, the inherent risks and the real possibility that they will sacrifice their lives. Since September 11, 2001, 5,456 American service members have perished fighting terror in all its forms. They all have family and friends who mourn their loss. They are the human face of this long conflict, and they will not be the last — the fight goes on, as it must. They were the best of us, and they deserve to be honored by the nation they fought to preserve.

Senior Airman Bradley Smith was killed in southern Afghanistan supporting the 4th Infantry Division on January 3, 2010. His foot patrol was ambushed by the Taliban, who detonated a series of bombs as they entered the small village of Ashoque. Two soldiers were killed from the initial blasts, two severely wounded. Airman Smith and the unit medic moved forward to render aid to the wounded and recover the dead. As they reassembled, a second bomb detonated. Airman Smith was standing on it. In all, five members of the patrol perished, and six were badly wounded, including Airman Smith’s fellow Air Force member Senior Airman Michael Malarise, who was blinded by shrapnel and is still recovering from his injuries.

Senior Airman Michael Malarsie (left) & Senior Airman Bradley Smith (right):

Both Airmen were part of an elite group of Air Force warriors known as Tactical Air Control Parties (TACP). These remarkable airmen accompany forward Army units to coordinate air support to ground operations. Their training is rigorous and demanding. Their school at Hurlburt Field Florida has a high washout rate. Only the best get to wear the black beret with its distinctive crest. Airman Smith was one of the best, a battlefield airman, who always strived to excel, who always put in the extra effort, who earned the respect of all who knew him.

Brad was born on Sept 11, 1985. It was his birthday when hijacked airliners hit the Twin Trade Towers and the Pentagon. He was sixteen. He and his brother Brian both joined the Air Force. Most Americans spend their whole lives without doing a thing for their nation, but the Smiths had two sons volunteer to serve, to go into harms way, to do what has to be done. Their family has given us their most precious thing: the life of a son, their joy and their pride and their legacy. It is impossible to repay that sacrifice. It should make every American bow his head and say a prayer of thanksgiving that we have such families among us who raise our heroes and know such grief.

As much as Brad was a warrior, he was gentle — he fed the homeless and mentored young people at his church. He was loyal friend, a loving husband and proud new father, who called his wife Tiffany and their baby daughter Chloe Lynn every day, even from the war zone. Brad loved them with the same irrepressible energy with which he approached everything in his life.

At Brad’s funeral, after the service had ended but before the interment, a long line of young men in blue uniforms and black berets slowly walked past the graveside. Each one briefly stopped to murmur private words of thanks and pressed the crest from their beret into the wood of his casket. A hundred and fifty were pinned there when the line ended. Then, in unison, those men, his comrades and fellow TACP airmen, saluted — a final farewell to a fallen brother. On their chests were purple hearts and awards for bravery, symbols of sacrifice and a commitment to duty we can only imagine. They have faced our enemies for us in all the perilous places of the world. They have fought the depravity of his ideology to bring freedom to those who have never known it.

Remember Brad on this Memorial Day. Bow your head in thanks for the terrible sacrifice his family has made for us. Remember Tiffany and Chloe as they struggle to cope in a world without their beloved husband and father. Remember Senior Airman Michael Malarise, who suffers with grievous wounds still. Remember all who now serve, far from home, in harms way, to guard the freedoms we too often forget were bought for us with the blood of fine young men like Senior Airman Bradley Smith.

The brave men who fell on 3 January 2010 in southern Afghanistan:

SGT Joshua Allen Lengstorf
B Co., 1-12 IN
SPC Brian Robert Bowman
B Co., 1-12 IN
SPC Robert John Donevski
B Co., 2-12 IN
PFC John Phillip Dion
B Co., 1-12 IN
SrA Bradley Randall Smith
10th Air Support Operations Squadron

The Tactical Air Control Party site http://usaftacp.com/ has photos of Brad’s funeral and Tiffany and Chloe.

Faces of War: The Fallen Marine

by: Rick Leventhal

from the Marines Combat Outpost in Tahgaz, Afghanistan:

There is much Fox News can’t report about the valor and heroism of the most recent casualty in Afghanistan, a U.S. Marine with the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. It’s just too soon.

But after spending time with his unit, Alpha Company of the 1st L.A.R., two things are clear: this Marine’s loss is being felt deeply by his brothers in uniform and his unit has not wavered in its mission to bring peace and stability to the Helmand River Valley.

The Marine’s base at Tahgaz is the furthest south and west in the country and some platoons are stationed even further out in the remote desert and surrounding hills. While L.A.R. Marines are used to working out of their Light Armored Vehicles (LAV’s), the Marines at Tahgaz are primarily patrolling on foot, for eight to ten hours a day or more.

They’re led by Captain John Bitonti, a combat veteran who I met while embedded with his unit, the 3rd L.A.R., during the invasion of Iraq. He went back for another tour in Fallujah in 2004. Now he leads well over 100 men in sometimes hostile territory.

“The enemy is out there” the Captain told me. “They’re watching, they want to kill us. The key is that we need to be more vigilant than them and be prepared to stop them before they stop us.”

I asked him about the fallen Marine, who is the 1000th U.S. casualty in Afghanistan since troops first arrived here in late 2001. He told me the men were out on foot patrol and spotted a lone figure across the river who didn’t move, despite the sandstorm. After waiting and observing the man, they decided to resume their patrol and an IED exploded from a berm, killing one of the Marines and seriously wounding two others.

“For me to lose him? Yeah, absolutely, it tears me apart, it hurts inside, but we have a mission to continue and I’m gonna get more marines hurt if we don’t continue with our mission, which is exactly the reason the night of the incident we pushed patrol literally right afterwards. That patrol was getting those marines out, another patrol was already patrolling the same area. We can’t let them know that they got the best of us and I know after that attack, they’re watching us to see what we’re gonna do… and they know if they try to do that again, we’re gonna be ready this time.”

“This marine, yeah, he’s not with us physically, but he’s with us in spirit and I haven’t given him a leave of absence yet… so he’s still on patrol, he’ll be redeploying back to the states when we do.”

Captain Bitonti spends much of his time meeting with locals, trying to convince them the U.S. is here to help. It was his unit that was first made aware of a six year old local boy who’d been bitten in the face by a deadly Viper snake. They called for the airlift that saved the boy’s life.

“In a counterinsurgency fight, the center of gravity is the people, and that’s who we’re fighting for right now. It’s between us and the Taliban… and we gotta show them that the Taliban are the bad guys and that we’re the winning side.”

Is it hard to keep fighting after suffering such a loss?

“For me to continue? No it’s not hard, because my job is to go get these guys. My job is to hunt down the enemy so we don’t have to be here any longer.”

Memorial Day 2010

By: Oliver North

ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va. — This is the place that receives the most attention on Memorial Day, though it is but one of 141 national cemeteries in the United States and 24 others located on foreign soil. Many of our countrymen will observe this “last Monday in May” holiday with travel, shopping and picnics. But those who take the time to visit one of these hallowed grounds will have an unforgettable experience.

These are the final resting places for more than 3 million Americans who served in our armed forces — as soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines — including the nearly 5,500 who have perished in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A visit to one of these quiet memorials is a tribute to those who made history by wearing our nation’s uniform and taking up arms to preserve our liberty and free tens of millions of others from tyranny. In words written on stone markers, these places tell the story of who we are as a people.

Regardless of when they served, all interred in these cemeteries sacrificed the comforts of home and absented themselves from the warmth and affection of loved ones. Since 1776, more than 1.5 million Americans have lost their lives while in uniform.

At countless funerals and memorial services for those who lost their lives in the service of our country, I hear the question, “Why is such a good young person taken from us in the prime of life?” Plato, the Greek philosopher, apparently sought to resolve the issue by observing, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” I prefer to take my solace in the words of Jesus to the Apostle John: “Father, I will that those you have given me, be with me where I am.”

My sojourns to this “Sacred Ground,” as Tom Ruck calls our national cemeteries in the title of his magnificent book, remind me that among those here are veterans who served with my father and all of my uncles in the conflagration of World War II. Only a handful of those 16.5 million from that “greatest generation” remain. Others resting in these consecrated places were tested just five years later in our first fight against despotic communism — on the Korean Peninsula. They braved stifling heat, mind-numbing cold and an enemy that often outnumbered them 10 to one.

Here are headstones of those who served in the decade between Korea and Vietnam. More than 12 millions young Americans donned military uniforms in what was called “the cold war.” It was only cold for those who didn’t have to fight in it. They served on land, air and sea in lonely outposts, dusty camps, along barbed wire barriers in foreign lands, on guard against those who would have done us harm if they had the chance.

Between 1964 and 1975, more than 7 million young Americans were committed to the bloody contest in Southeast Asia. The names of 58,267 who died from that fight are on the wall of the Vietnam War Memorial — some of them were my Marines and my brother’s soldiers. Headstones in cemeteries all across this land testify to more of their selfless sacrifice — and serve as a reminder that the victory denied in that war should never happen again.

In the three-and-a-half decades since Vietnam, not a single year has passed without Americans in uniform being committed to hostile action somewhere around the globe — including Grenada, Beirut, Panama, the Balkans and Kuwait. We are not a warlike people. But for more than two centuries, ours has been the only nation on earth willing to consistently send its sons and daughters into harm’s way — not for gold or oil or colonial conquest, but to offer others the hope of liberty.

Since Sept. 11, that great legacy has been borne by volunteers serving in the shadows of the Hindu Kush, along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, in the Persian Gulf and on anti-piracy patrols in the Indian Ocean. These young Americans are engaged against a merciless enemy who has proven repeatedly that there is no atrocity beneath them — and that they will do whatever it takes to kill as many of our countrymen as possible.

Those now in uniform deserve our thanks, for no nation has ever had a better military force than the one we have today. And no accolade to those presently in our country’s service is greater than honoring the veterans who preceded them on Memorial Day.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Memorial-Day-2010-95143364.html#ixzz0pKTmb7lx