Memorial Day

Ben Stein says:

A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world. A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him. A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad. The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists. We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.

My Air Force Kid is home safe from the desert, and I’ll get to see him soon. I am thankful today, and I’m taking time out to remember each mother’s kid who did not come home, and each kid’s dad or mom, each brother or sister. Those who volunteer to defend us, and those who died doing it, deserve more than a single day of remembrance.

Thank you.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

6 comments… add one
  • Writebrained May 27, 2008 @ 18:09

    I am a Vietnam vet as well. It breaks my heart that the young men and women of our country make such a huge sacrifice for freedom and what they truly believe in, only to be overshadowed by the bigger media story of politics. Some things just haven’t changed. Thanks Ben Stein.

  • Peter Knight May 27, 2008 @ 14:32

    My Dad was once an Air Force Kid; a very old war, long time ago. Bravo for Ben Stein. And for your AFK and his comrades. Thank you all for doing the hard jobs, and the Moms, wives and loved ones that support them.

  • Kyralae May 27, 2008 @ 11:44

    Thank the good lord and the superb training of out military personnel that your son is coming home to you. As a child of a military father I know your worry and then relief to hear he is coming back to you. Have a wonderful homecoming and let him know he has a lot of silent support in your friends that read and listen to your words. Give him a hug for me.

  • Rick May 26, 2008 @ 12:45

    Um, that should have said “by VIRTUE of sheer… agreement”. Consider me an echo in the typo-fabulous chorus.

  • Rick May 26, 2008 @ 12:44

    I have little to offer here by way of sheer, visceral agreement. On days like today it’s just too easy for me to feel so overwhelmed by the state of the world (which is unfortunately made easier when you, er, study the state of the world for your career). But I am so, so glad and relieved to hear the AFK is home safe. Give him a big hug from all of us.

  • BJSteeves May 26, 2008 @ 11:36

    As a Vietnam Vet, I thank you for a wonderful reminder of the sacrifices that our service personnel make to insure of freedoms, and especially those who make the ultimate sacrifice for all of us.

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