In light of the many upcoming Veteran’s Day tributes, I share with you a brief reflection. Not too long ago, I had a conversation with a Gold Star mother about our sons and the different ways that we as a nation remember our heroes. It was a casual conversation, like many I’ve had with families across the country. But something she said struck a very deep cord. She said the lives of our children are a national treasure. I pondered that for a very long time. A national treasure. What did that mean exactly and how did it apply to our values as Americans? What do you think of when you hear the words “national treasure”?
This notion began to resonate within me. A treasure is something to be sought after, something to be coveted. Its worth is immeasurable… Can that be said about lives past? Absolutely! If you do an Internet search regarding those two words you will find many definitions, ranging from “living icons” to “founding documents.” Most anything or anyone can become a national treasure for a variety of reasons. However, think about all of the freedoms and privileges that we have in this country and then ask yourself who maintains and protects them. Freedom of speech, religion and assembly. The right to bear arms and to participate in free elections. The men and women of our armed forces are the people who put their lives on the line in order to guarantee that we don’t lose those cherished freedoms and rights. And what of the ones who don’t make it home to enjoy them?
From our nation’s inception brave men and women have willingly given their lives selflessly for freedom’s cause, preserving a way of life that we are lucky to have been born into. I think that it is entirely appropriate for all of us who benefit from that sacrifice to treasure those lives. These men and women are probably our country’s greatest treasure, for without them, freedom would not exist. Some may consider buildings, monuments or national parks to be great treasures. However, as Americans we would be unable to explore and enjoy those things without the foundation of freedom paid for with all of the lives lost to protect it. So, I must agree that the lives given for our freedom are truly a national treasure, a treasure we must outwardly acknowledge and indeed preserve, a treasure we must recognize is part of our nation’s existence, a treasure that includes the families that raised and loved these heroes, a treasure that should be placed on the highest pedestal of tribute.
This national treasure of lives given for freedom’s sake may seem like nothing more than a list of names. But each of those names belongs to a face. Some of us may personally know a hero. That person may be our own loved one or a friend or comrade. Many even have memories of a friend or relative from generations past, perhaps as far back as World War I. Those names may trigger a poignant memory. But what about those heroes from long ago who paid the same price for America? Are they any less a part of that treasure? No, this national treasure is an accumulation of thousands of individuals who were born to loving families, married the love of their life and all shared one distinct characteristic– they loved their country and would do anything to preserve it. Should we not collectively recognize and preserve their devotion?
If the lives of our fallen heroes have not already been officially designated as a national treasure it is our obligation to ensure that happens. More importantly we should each find our own way of regularly expressing honor and educating others of the value of these lives to us all.
In the more than 200 years of American history, there has never been a symbol dedicated specifically to the recognition of all military lives lost and to the families they left behind, until now. The Honor and Remember Flag is that public symbol of appreciation, a visible and tangible display of thanks that gives all citizens a way to make a silent statement of perpetual remembrance. I believe that one significant act we can make towards preserving our national treasure is to fly the Honor and Remember Flag. Through the establishment of this symbol, we are able to leave a visual legacy, create a point of discussion for educating everyone and make a national statement of thanks.
Each family in their own way diligently works to preserve their loved one’s memory. When the last person who remembers that loved one’s name passes away, he or she is truly forgotten.
I believe we must instill in our nation this idea of declaring the lives of our military fallen a national treasure. Whether in spirit or through legislation, these heroes represent the highest values of the American spirit. If we proclaim their lives to be precious and continue to call attention to their sacrifice, their contribution to our liberty will never lose its value.
Our mission is much more than encouraging the display of a simple piece of cloth. Rather, the Honor and Remember Flag is a means by which to pay daily tribute to generations of American heroes throughout history, and an important expression of preserving the legacy of our national treasure.
“Let us not mourn that such men died, but rejoice that such men lived”
~George S. Patton~
First written and published October 2013.