I drove up to Fort Leavenworth today… as I do whenever I’m in need of CONTEXT.
I rarely walk the rows of our most recently fallen service members as I don’t want to disturb grieving families, so I make a commitment to HONOR the memories of soldiers who most likely… no longer have someone around to remember their name.
As I read the stones, in my mind I say the names and ranks, in HONOR of their service. Some stones still “speak” and give a flash of LIFE… a unique characteristic, a nickname, a eulogy. A rebellious salute to the end of a life STAINED by WAR, made by an aged VETERAN who’s SPIRIT remained untarnished by the evils brought with it.
A majority are marked with the Cross of Christ, so the stones marked with a Star of David or the Star and Crescent reveal even more depth, and some stones mark the resting place of TWO souls…
The WOMEN who stood behind those heroes in LIFE, chose to rest beside them in death.
The oldest military grave at Fort Leavenworth Cemetery is that of Captain James Allen, who died in 1846, when our President was James K. Polk… 174 YEARS AGO.
Representatives from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WWI… fighting for the United States of America on HORSEBACK. Thousands of BRAVE men and women who’ve dedicated their lives to our Nation, over the course of CENTURIES…
The bitter wind blows through the oaks, rustling the crisp brown leaves and the clock chimes at the top of the hour. The sound echoes off the hillside, the SILENCE echoes throughout TIME.
I am humbled to think ‘WHAT CAUSE could rally so many people to give ALL of themselves, to ensure its continued existence… and could there ever be another seen as its EQUAL?’
As I pass the obelisk and crest the hill, the view of markers standing at attention rolls down and across the valley, and the scenery starts to change… WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq… Mounds of DIRT. Freshly laid flowers. THEN, just grass. A sprawling hillside with a couple saplings, the green contrasting sharply with its marble edging…
… I now know where I stand.
U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)
- Length: 1092 feet (332.8 m)
- Beam: 252 feet (76.8 m)
- 2 Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors, generating 194 megawatts
- Speed: 30+ knots
- Range: UNLIMITED
- Ship’s company: 3,200
- Air wing: 2,480 carrying 90 aircraft
… and this is only one of TEN. This is the culmination of over 230 years of scientific achievement, born of our CAUSE, our dedication to Equal Justice Under Law.
But the “Big Stick” is only a HOLLOW SHELL without the men and women who makeup her LIFEBLOOD, without whom she does not SAIL.
I do not say these things to boast. I do not say this to intimidate. I am simply stating a FACT, bringing CLARITY to a situation we’ve ALL seen before.
Our Experience must guide us now.
Let us not speak of escalation, when we KNOW where that path LEADS. At the end of that road, we know what fate LIES.
FIRST it’s a tanker, then it’s a refinery. Then it’s a military DRONE. Now, LIVES. First its US, then it’s THEM… once upon a time it was the Gulf of Tonkin. And before THAT, it was the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and MANY years before… REVOLUTIONARIES. Dressed in a FALSE FLAG, wearing the clothes of NATIVES… drunkenly throwing TEA into a harbor…
We know where the path of escalation LEADS. A cost, measured in LIVES.
What GOOD is Experience if we do not LEARN from it? What will become of our collective KNOWLEDGE if we do not SHARE IT?
“The only winning move is: not to play.”
In so far as it is within my power… I will work toward ensuring that Kansas Hillside, stays forever GREEN.