They Fought For More Than Country
-- Sigmund, Karl and Alfred
The quote above, from the post Memorial Day And The Mirror Of Hope, stretches out and catches the beauty of the defense of the American experiment beautifully -- it is a Willie Mays in the '54 World Series kind of beautiful catch.
Our veterans have fought, don't you see, for Madison and Jefferson and Adams and the others, not for Teddy or FDR or LBJ or W. Not for Pusan or Da Nang or Tikrit. They fought, and fight, for the principles those men laid down in that incredibly difficult time at the end of the 16th Century when out of a sea of divisiveness and discord they hewed a beautiful ship -- call her Liberty, call her Freedom, call her The People -- and launched her into history, forever changing it.
When our armed services take up arms, they do it for the ideals our God-inspired forefathers created, beyond all human capability to create. That, so much more than the remembrance of every wrong from the Alamo to the World Trade Center, is what they are willing to fight and die for.
I woke up this morning, as I do every Memorial Day, thinking of a man I never met, Christopher Fassnacht. Chris was everyone's favorite cousin in my mom's world of aunts and uncles and cousins. He was Paul and Rosetta Fassnacht's boy, who grew up just down the street from the house Granddad and Grandmother lived in for over 60 years.
Paul worked with Granddad at Indiana Lumber and Rosetta was the sweetest great-aunt, such a soft voice, and an eye condition that kept her from opening her eyelids, save for a tiny slit, so she had to tilt her head way back to see you. They must have teamed up wonderfully on Chris, because his cousins adored him.
He served his country in WWII as a bomber pilot and was lost over Germany when his plane was shot down. So many died as he did, in a trail of smoke against the sky -- so many that he's lost even to Google.
Even though I never knew him, he gave me my sense of the loss of a loved one serving in the armed forces. That's because the love of his cousins and his legacy as a man live on in my brother Chris and a cousin Chris, and an entire branch of the family, the Christophers, who used to be the Fassnachts until Uncle Bill changed his name after the war.
(I don't know if there's a connection, but Robert Fassnacht, a distant cousin, had a son Christopher before he was killed in an anti-Vietnam war bombing at the University of Wisconsin in 1970.)
That, my friends, was a man who touched so many during a short life. And there are thousands upon thousands of Chris Fassnachts who we honor today -- remarkable young men and women who meant so much to so many, but were willing to fight for the principles and dreams of a nation that has touched so many more.
Some would have us leave Iraq before we can finish our work there. They don't hold enough faith in the bright vision of America to think we can change a place like Iraq. They're right in saying Iraq is a tough, tough place for that vision to take hold. But they dishonor the almost 3,500 wonderful, honorable and courageous Americans who have given their lives so that the American dream may be dreamed by others.