America’s honor

May 25, 2019
Article category: Highlights. Tags: 

America’s Honor, by Scott Johnson, May 27, 2019:

In observance of Memorial Day 2007 the Wall Street Journal published a brilliant column by Peter Collier to mark the occasion. The column remains timely and is accessible online [American Honor By Peter Collier, Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2007]. 
 
I don’t think we’ll read or hear anything more thoughtful or appropriate to the occasion today. With the kind permission of Peter himself, here it is:
 
Once we knew who and what to honor on Memorial Day: those who had given all their tomorrows, as was said of the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy, for our todays. But in a world saturated with selfhood, where every death is by definition a death in vain, the notion of sacrifice today provokes puzzlement more often than admiration. We support the troops, of course, but we also believe that war, being hell, can easily touch them with an evil no cause for engagement can wash away. And in any case we are more comfortable supporting them as victims than as warriors....
 
Not long ago I was asked to write the biographical sketches for a book featuring formal photographs of all our living Medal of Honor recipients. As I talked with them, I was, of course, chilled by the primal power of their stories. But I also felt pathos: They had become strangers–honored strangers, but strangers nonetheless–in our midst....
 
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We impoverish ourselves by shunting these heroes and their experiences to the back pages of our national consciousness. Their stories are not just boys’ adventure tales writ large. They are a kind of moral instruction. They remind of something we’ve heard many times before but is worth repeating on a wartime Memorial Day when we’re uncertain about what we celebrate. We’re the land of the free for one reason only: We’re also the home of the brave.
 
Peter’s book on the living Medal of Honor recipients is Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty, now republished in a third edition. Peter is the author, most recently, of Political Woman, the biography of Jeane Kirkpatrick published in 2012 by Encounter Books.
 
Read the entire article: America's Honor.
 
Related
 
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: A Fitting Foundation for Memorial Day, by Dennis Jamison, Canada Free Press, May 27, 2019.