I was driving in Memorial Day traffic yesterday like millions of others when I heard the “host” of a radio show say: “ On this day we offer our heartfelt thanks for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.” I know what she meant, but it rang hollow as if she had been scripted by a bored copywriter who, for some reason, thought dead soldiers would be listening. She repeated this statement several times.
The term “ultimate sacrifice” refers to dying in battle, not to the thousands upon thousands of men and women came home from war with scars and wounds that have never fully healed. Okay, Memorial Day didn’t anticipate the lingering horror of combat—it’s a moment to remember those who died at places like Normandy Beach, Iwo Jima, Dak To and Fallujah. However, I prefer the phrase: “all gave some, some gave all.”
Or, maybe it is “heartfelt thanks,” that bothered me. When you really mean “thanks,” you add an adjective like “heartfelt” before you go about your business.
But the finality of dying in battle goes beyond words. It is a “loss” that should be in our hearts and that will always be there avoiding adjectives hurled at it, never finding the right moment to say what your dying in battle has meant to us.