The other day my son Drew asked me about a bumper sticker he saw on car as we drove by. I told him the sticker was saying that Marines are special, and we should be proud of them. The following conversation ensued.
Drew: What are Marines?
Me: They’re soldiers, and they protect our country from the bad guys.
Me: Because they wanted to be Marines. They volunteered to stop the bad guys and protect us.
Drew: Why do they protect us?
Me: Because someone needs to. We need brave people to help us.
Drew: But how do they know us? Why do they protect us even though they don’t know us?
I paused for quite some time at that last question. I wasn’t sure how to answer my boy’s question in a way that he would understand. I wasn’t sure I could even answer it in a way that I would understand it. How do I wrap my mind around the fact that brave men and women who I’ve never met are willing to die in order to protect me?
I finally decided that the simplest truth was probably the best truth.
Me: Because they’re the good guys.
Drew: But, do we know when they do a good thing and get a bad guy?
Me: No… No, we usually don’t.
And that may be one of the greatest injustices of all. Even in our modern age of social media and cell phone cameras, we still rarely see good soliders being good soldiers. We hear about the bad soldiers all the time. We hear about the sexual abuse (and, for the sake of the victims, we need to hear more about it). We hear about the failed missions, the abuse, and the desecration of fallen enemies.
But for every bad soldier who makes the news, there are thousands of good soldiers whose valor goes untold. Unfortunately, serving with honor, distinction, and courage simply isn’t newsworthy. But while we may not hear about the good they do when they do it, the least we can do is honor their sacrifice after the fact on Memorial Day.
They died so that we would not. Our remembrance proves their sacrifice was not in vain.