A couple of weeks ago iI was in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I went to the National Cemetery, the same place President Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address. The graves from the Civil War are in concentric semi-circles around a large monument. The markers are just a line on stones flush with the ground. Half are just marked as unknown. It’s a moving sight - and a bit chilling. Further out from the Civil War area are the graves of more recent veterans. Most of them appear to be from World War II. As I wandered among the tombstones, I was surprised to see one with fresh flowers on it – the only one I saw with flowers. It was the only one that I saw. This young sergeant in the Army Air Force was just 23 years old when in was killed in January 1945. Someone is still thinking of him, however. I have no idea who Sgt. Leasure was or why or who still takes the effort to visit his grave almost 72 years after his death. Perhaps it is a sibling or a friend. Maybe his widow or a child who never knew his father. Regardless, I was moved that for someone remembered him.
Veterans Day is when we honor those who have served our country. The essence of such honor is remembrance. We cannot and should never forget the dedication and sacrifices of the millions of men and women who have taken the oath and put on the uniform to defend our nation. Whoever is still honoring this young soldier buried in the hauntingly beautiful cemetery at Gettysburg surely understands the necessity that we never forget our veterans. We should all be so wise.