The crack of long rifles and the smoke of conflict enveloped those who would no longer tolerate tyranny. At Lexington and Concord, the first shots were fired in the name of a government established by the people. No longer could one man claim sole authority over his subjects or claim some divine appointment. As human beings created in the image of our one true God, our forefathers exclaimed their desire to be free and sacrificed everything in its name. These were citizen soldiers who laid down their plows and closed their shops for a greater purpose, to tell the world that they have inalienable rights granted by God and no one not even a king has the right to quash those basic rights.
Throughout our history, citizens have been called to defend the rights that were first paid for during the tribulations of our nation’s founding. How many have answered the call without consideration for personal safety or the comforts they will have left behind? Knowing that they may not live to see the end of the conflict yet knowing the cause of freedom is a cause worthy of the ultimate sacrifice. All of us who live under freedom’s true flag owe so much to the men and women who so willingly placed themselves in harm’s way.
Many of us are fortunate to have benefitted from the sacrifice of others and it is up to those of us who benefit to ensure the sacrifice of our heroes is never forgotten. We must never forget the boots that charged across the field of battle into the onslaught, not knowing the outcome of the day. Names of places where so many paid the price have disappeared into the obscurity of a society more concerned with labels and immediate gratification. How many know what was done at Bull Run, at Cantigny, at Pearl Harbor, at Taejon, at the laDrang Valley, in Iraq during the Persian Gulf War, or Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11? Many of us mouth the words “thank you for your service” but do we truly appreciate what it meant to willingly wear the boots that crossed the field into the jaws of death for the sole purpose of ensuring a stranger’s freedom?
We must always remember that our freedom comes from God but the boots of our American soldiers stand between us and those who would try to take that freedom away.
Director, Catholic Cemeteries Association