Monday, May 30, 2011

He will raise you up on eagle's wings

While you're all out getting sheets, cars, and other stuff at fabulous discounts, perhaps it wouldn't be too much trouble to pause today and remember the selfless men and women who sacrificed everything to ensure you had the right to live your lives in freedom.
Many people who only know Memorial Day as having something to do with soldiers will doubtlessly want to thank each one of them they see today. They're not the ones we honor today. They're the ones who are still standing - the ones who remain to carry on the traditions, honor the memories, and finish the missions left by those who fell.
Don't thank the servicemember standing in front of you. Thank his brothers and sisters who aren't there to stand beside him.

I'm reminded of John Magee Jr. today. He was a young American who wouldn't sit idly by while freedom needed defenders in Europe in the days before the United States formally joined the war. He volunteered in the Canadian Air Force, and was soon sent across the Atlantic to England to defend civilization from the Nazis.

He was also a bit of a poet. In his letters home to his family, he would include bits of verse that he was working on. After a high-altitude test flight took him to 30,000 feet in a Spitfire V, he included the following poem in a letter to his parents.

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

John Magee was killed in a training accident December 11, 1941. He was buried shortly thereafter in the cemetery near the air field where his unit was stationed. He never returned home.

At 3:00 p.m. local time, we pause today in the memory of John Magee, and the many others like him who will forever remain "over there."

As always, please remember to fly your flags properly today.

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