Fallen soldiers are far from our memory because war is so far from our minds. We rarely think about their sacrifice because death is an unpleasant thing to contemplate, but on November 11th, it’s impossible to sweep those thoughts away. Poppies remind us of a soldier’s crimson blood, and bagpipes sing a somber serenade of men marching off to war.
On days like today, the more we think, the more we realize that life isn’t peaceful because the soldier finished fighting; it’s peaceful because he is still fighting from the grave. He is a solid and stubborn man who can never be killed. He is the tyrant’s ghost; he haunts men and women who dare to lock us down in a fit of safety so serious it puts our lives in danger. The soldier’s tombstone challenges all government’s tyrannical bids for power. It's a symbol that lets us cry, “They died for our freedoms; don’t you dare trample on them.”
The fallen soldier is a louder siren for freedom than any horns on any truck. There is more power in the veteran’s tombstone than a rally of 10 000 men. His grave is a prouder display of liberty than even the mightiest flag. He does what not even Caesar could do and makes all men fall silent in an instant; no one yells in a graveyard because the hush of a sacrificed soldier drowns out everything else. His voice for freedom and justice is loudest, precisely because he no longer has a voice at all.
The soldier is a paradox our leaders do not understand. The politician loves his life, so he hoards it like Midas; the soldier loves life, so he freely gives it away like Christ. Every morning, whether chewing barbed wire in Flanders or plunging deeper into France, the soldier said to himself and his company, “Again. Do it again! Wake up, and do it again.” We learn from their lives that the struggle for freedom is not automatic, but monotonous. Men and women are always prowling like roaring lions for more power and control. To defend ourselves and our freedom, we must act like soldiers, set watchmen across the nation, and every morning wake up to “Do it again.” It’s not contentment which makes a nation free, but a willingness to lay down our lives so others might live. We aim to imitate the veteran and his courage this Remembrance Day, for we have lived comfortably and grown so sluggish and tired that our fallen soldiers are more vigilant than we.
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