Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Bryan Rhode of Crozier, resplendent in his Marine Captain’s uniform, addressed the Memorial Day observance sponsored by Goochland American Legion Post 215 yesterday morning on the Courthouse Green.
(Thanks to Doug Kinney for recording and posting the event on YouTube http://youtu.be/JAlgyGiecns. This needs to go viral.)
On the day set aside to honor America’s war dead, Rhode spoke of two particular fallen troopers. One a female helicopter pilot who was killed in Fallujah, Iraq, the other an artillery officer who died in Afghanistan last December.
They are part of a long line of heroes who died in America’s service protecting the freedoms that we all take for granted. Many of today’s troopers come home with terrible injuries that have changed their lives forever.
Rhode then alluded to the film “Saving Private Ryan.” This is the story of a platoon of soldiers assigned to find Ryan in the chaotic aftermath of the 1944 Normandy invasion. The War Department decided to send Ryan home because he was the sole survivor of his parents’ four sons in uniform.
As one of the soldiers sent to find Ryan is dying, he asks the private “to earn it,” meaning that much had been sacrificed for him to survive the war and go home.
Rhode then exhorted the audience to “earn it” too.
What a powerful message for Memorial Day. His remarks followed recognition of veterans who served in World War II and the Koran conflict. It was fitting to honor members of the Greatest Generation who are slipping into history at an alarming pace. We must say thank you to them while we can. They earned it.
But what about the rest of us?
Sure, these are not the best of times for many folks. Families and businesses are struggling to survive and get a little traction to move forward.
Rhode encouraged his audience to give something back as part of “earning it.”
A healthy, supportive and productive society is the result of people across the socio-economic spectrum doing what they can to make their little corner of the world a better place.
We’ve gotten away from the notion of everyone doing their part to keeps things on course and let the other guy, whoever that may be, carry the burden.
The American spirit will endure only if each of us does our bit. We owe the fallen more than ceremonial homage on national holidays. We need to earn their sacrifice that secured our freedoms by the way that we live our lives every day.