Sunday, May 29, 2011

Enough Land To Bury Our Dead.

"The only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead. And that is the kind of nation we are." -General Colin Powell

Memorial Day, 2011

My Dear Fellow Patriots;

They came from the countryside, in the beginning, many of them carrying muskets they used for hunting game or chasing varmints, and shortly after the sun dawned on a bright April day one of them fired the shot that was heard 'round the world.

At that precise moment, as a puff of smoke and the smell of spent powder still wafted in the early-morning spring breeze, notice was given: Americans were free people; they would fight to defend their liberty and would sacrifice their lives to discard the yoke of tyranny.

And fight they did. A bedraggled army of citizen-soldiers, mostly poor and poorly trained, battled and died until, in the end, they chased the British to the city of Yorktown, in the colony of Virginia, and forced the surrender of the occupying army.

What was perhaps most remarkable was that they were, and we still are, a people united not around racial or tribal identities, but around an idea and a faith - a belief that our destiny, and the destiny of mankind, is to be free. We began our nation's history by defending that premise with our lives, and we do so to this day.

Memorial Day is not about ideas, though - it is about people. It is about the men and women who left their homes and loved ones but never returned; their mortal remains interred in a simple grave, their headstone a simple cross. It is about the people who gave, as Abraham Lincoln described it, their last full measure of devotion. What makes America unique - and exceptional, President Obama - is that no member of our military ever died in a war of conquest. Every American who ever fought, who ever perished on the field of battle, did so in the cause of freedom.

Greed, misguided religious fervor, lust for power - any one of these diseases can grip the minds of men and hang on tenaciously, and that is why the American military exists and that is why we fight. We are blessed to be defended by such magnificent men and women - ordinary Americans with extraordinary souls. History has never seen the likes of the American fighting man - and probably never will again.

At some time during the course of this weekend, I ask you take just a moment to say a silent prayer of thanks to those fallen Americans. They died not for kings or potentates, not for plunder or riches. They died conquering tyrants and occupiers, and when those Americans who survived completed their task they laid down their arms and helped the vanquished rebuild, because that is what Americans do.

That is the kind of nation we are.

Yours in Liberty,

Frank Santarpia

Staten Island, NY