This weekend is the sober celebration where we honor the heroes and heroines of our land who fought and died for “the rest of us.” I’m keenly aware of being in that second group. Etched on the marble wall of the Viet Nam War Memorial are SIXTEEN fallen warriors named David Smith. Obviously, I am not one of them; I missed the military draft by less than a year . . . just the luck of the draw.
But I wish I could drive over to those sixteen Smith homes where the cloud of grief is never lifted. That’s 16 households where Dad is missing and Christmas parties always come with misty-eyed memories of what was lost. Where a pretty bride’s husband never came home and the marriage bed was empty forever after. Sixteen Smith addresses where a military convoy pulled up at the curb and a chaplain rang the doorbell with the wrenching telegram.
All I can do these many decades later is to try and be a good citizen. Salute the flag with my hand over my heart and stand in respectful silence during the playing of our National Anthem. Pay my taxes without complaint – and when I think about our vets, yeah, I’m absolutely willing to do that. Treasure and protect our unique Bill of Rights: freedom of speech, separation of church and state, the right to bear arms, our peaceful elections. I liked a line in David Frum’s recent book where he exhorts all of us: This is especially a needful time for all of us to BE GOOD CITIZENS.