The keynote speaker was a retired Vietnam War Army Ranger, who, after conspicuous heroism in battle, came back critically wounded and blind for life -- and who has spent the past four decades in a productive and patriotic career -- currently directing services for military families. His remarks were pointed and well taken. Why, he asked, will some people step forward and risk death, while most will not? His answer (correct, I believe) is that they are modest enough to recognize that some things are more important, such as America, our ancient freedoms and safe and good lives for our progeny.
But as I have talked with some of our young soldiers, as well as some vets and their families, I have begun to notice a budding awareness (if not yet quite resentment) among them that not only are a very small fraction of Americans prepared to wear the uniform and bear the burden of citizenship but also few of their fellow Americans even seem to be aware or appreciative of the sacrifice.
Of course, Memorial Day services historically have been more intensely attended during and shortly after wars than during long periods of peace. But we are at war now. As our speaker reminded us Monday, at the very moment we were gathered under a blue and sunny sky, young American soldiers were trudging down dusty landmine-filled streets for our safety's sake. God bless them.
It cannot be healthy for our republic that not only do a mere sliver of our people bear the burden of military duty but also that even during war, increasingly it is those soldiers' families who carry the far more modest duty of saying thank you.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.