Charlie Keating is not alone. I am privileged to serve a parish near Ft. Campbell, KY, and there are so many gallant and selfless young men and women who daily serve the duty of our nation's freedom and security every day. They do it without much fanfare, without much financial compensation, without much complaint, and without much notice. Their spouses and children wait and pray with their moms and dads while they are deployed in danger zones and in harms way. They serve lonely and difficult schedules in which their families bear a significant burden with them -- whether in time of war or in peace.
Charlie Keating is not alone. Cemeteries are filled with tombstones and bronze plaques that mark the heroic and sacrificial service of our veterans. My dad and my father-in-law were veterans and I still feel the goosebumps of the rifle salute, of the soldier on bended knee, presenting the flag to my mom and my mother-in-law on behalf of a grateful nation. I remember growing up and going through the solemnities of the Memorial Day celebration of a small town in Northeast Nebraska -- the band playing the national anthem, the guns sounding off, the click of the heels as soldiers proudly wearing their uniforms of generations before, and the white cross with poppies we set off to place on the soldiers' graves.
Charlie Keating is not alone. Service men and women die in the line of duty. Their lives are stolen from them by terrorists and insurgents, by rebels and warriors, by enemies and despots. They lay down their lives and spill their blood from shore to shore and field to field. Their remains are brought home to somber reception and are left far from the places where they grew up, lived, and their families remain. They are remembered and forgotten, by memorial and plaque, by inscription and loved ones. They have paid the ultimate price in devotion to the cause of liberty and for the sake of their country.
At least on this day a grateful nation can say "we remember and we will not forget." But let it not be simply a day to pause between hotdogs and potato salad, between water sports and lawn darts, between our fun under the sun.
- Let it be a goal and a cause we live everyday.
- Let us be more noble citizens of this great land because of and in thanksgiving for those who gave their lives to secure, sustain, and seal our freedom.
- Let us not squander their legacy on foolishness but live with common sense so uncommonly found the great opportunity each day provides.
- Let us bequeath to those who come after us the sacred memory of the fallen as well as the noble responsibility to live honorably and for holy purpose the gift of citizenship, liberty, and justice.
- Let us remember them in tears and take up their example of passionate love for country, for the cause of what is good, right, and true, and what will preserve and protect us as a nation and people to whom God has given so much.