This Memorial Day we went with Looper friends, Kip and Insel, to tour West Point. West Point is spectacular: the grounds, the view, the history, the pomp and circumstance. Being there on Memorial Day and touring the cemetery, decorated with flags and punctuated with families remembering loved ones, was a really emotional and moving experience.
I wanted to write about the history, but what really struck me is the respect and honor code that flows there. "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do." I loved that - a plumb line for the future leaders of our military. May they each hold to it.
I also felt incredibly small, sad and grateful in the presence of a multitude as I read the gravestones. Not all the people buried there died in combat - some were grads who lived out long lives and some were spouses and children of grads. We saw the graves of the first two female graduates who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their families were there. Some of the other people buried there died shortly after graduation. Lives cut too short. I thought about my uncle, killed in Vietnam and my grandfather killed in WW2. I thought about my other grandfather who served in the Navy and my dad and other uncle who served in the Army - one for a few years, one for a career. I thought of our daughter's boyfriend who has 3 more years of vet school before fulfilling a commitment to the Army in active duty.
I tell you truly, if you want to hold tight to or change a position on an issue, walk through a cemetery and think about what you are willing to sacrifice - or ask others to sacrifice - to accomplish it.
And right now, I pray for leaders who won't burn down the world, fortitude for families of our soldiers and bravery and protection for our troops. May God bless us all.