Simply honor them the way they would have honored you

Fox News featured a special broadcast this past weekend honoring our veterans, both fallen and surviving, that really cut to the core of an issue that many Americans, including many veterans, especially combat veterans, find troubling: too many Americans have lost sight of the meaning of Memorial Day and consider it just another reason for a long holiday weekend in which to grill, drink, and relax.

This special, entitled "Modern Warriors," was headed up by Pete Hegseth, a former combat infantry officer, who hosted Navy SEAL "Lone Survivor" Marcus Luttrell and his twin brother, Morgan, also a medically retired SEAL, as well as Chad Fleming, an Army Ranger officer who served five deployments after he lost a leg due to combat wounds, and Congressman Adam Kinzinger, currently a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserves, a pilot with multiple combat deployments.  It was truly a group of America's finest fighters.

Halfway through the show, during a commercial break, my wife turned to me and said, "I am so glad we have young men like that protecting us."  I nodded agreement, an old warrior, knowing exactly how she felt.

But what struck me most about this small group of tough, combat-hardened men was their unanimous agreement in the closing segment that Memorial Day should be celebrated.  To a man, they thought the key word is celebrated — yes, this is a day of tribute to the fallen, but we should recognize that most of those fallen were young men — so how would they behave on a day off honoring their sacrifice?  To a man, this group of combat veterans agreed that their fallen buddies would be maintaining a happy vigil, grilling at the lake, at the park, or in their backyards while happily hoisting brews in heartfelt salutes to their fellow warriors. 

To those of you who feel that all Memorial Day observations should be formal, solemn affairs, I would ask you to consider the youth of the huge majority of America's fallen warriors and to ask yourselves how those young men would prefer to see their lives and their sacrifices honored.  As an old combat infantryman, I can attest that those of my friends who fell in Vietnam would vote overwhelmingly for a free-drinking, hard-partying barbecue over a solemn, military-style ceremony.  To my way of thinking, it should be a post-burial wake, where friends and strangers alike remember the lost young warriors and honor their loss with frequent toasts and great food, just as those young men would do for their own fallen friends were they themselves here today.

The upshot: Simply honor them the way they would have honored you.

Fox News featured a special broadcast this past weekend honoring our veterans, both fallen and surviving, that really cut to the core of an issue that many Americans, including many veterans, especially combat veterans, find troubling: too many Americans have lost sight of the meaning of Memorial Day and consider it just another reason for a long holiday weekend in which to grill, drink, and relax.

This special, entitled "Modern Warriors," was headed up by Pete Hegseth, a former combat infantry officer, who hosted Navy SEAL "Lone Survivor" Marcus Luttrell and his twin brother, Morgan, also a medically retired SEAL, as well as Chad Fleming, an Army Ranger officer who served five deployments after he lost a leg due to combat wounds, and Congressman Adam Kinzinger, currently a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserves, a pilot with multiple combat deployments.  It was truly a group of America's finest fighters.

Halfway through the show, during a commercial break, my wife turned to me and said, "I am so glad we have young men like that protecting us."  I nodded agreement, an old warrior, knowing exactly how she felt.

But what struck me most about this small group of tough, combat-hardened men was their unanimous agreement in the closing segment that Memorial Day should be celebrated.  To a man, they thought the key word is celebrated — yes, this is a day of tribute to the fallen, but we should recognize that most of those fallen were young men — so how would they behave on a day off honoring their sacrifice?  To a man, this group of combat veterans agreed that their fallen buddies would be maintaining a happy vigil, grilling at the lake, at the park, or in their backyards while happily hoisting brews in heartfelt salutes to their fellow warriors. 

To those of you who feel that all Memorial Day observations should be formal, solemn affairs, I would ask you to consider the youth of the huge majority of America's fallen warriors and to ask yourselves how those young men would prefer to see their lives and their sacrifices honored.  As an old combat infantryman, I can attest that those of my friends who fell in Vietnam would vote overwhelmingly for a free-drinking, hard-partying barbecue over a solemn, military-style ceremony.  To my way of thinking, it should be a post-burial wake, where friends and strangers alike remember the lost young warriors and honor their loss with frequent toasts and great food, just as those young men would do for their own fallen friends were they themselves here today.

The upshot: Simply honor them the way they would have honored you.