As part of my military reserve duty, I’ve been in New York City this past week helping to administer Fleet Week. Fleet Week is a big annual New York event that involves thousands of Sailors and Marines in the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. The aim is to promote greater understanding and awareness of the nation’s maritime military services.
Since today is Sunday, I attended Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. (Though, truth be told, this was my first time in church in a while, I’m not proud to admit.)
Navy Admiral John C. Harvey, Jr. and Marine Corps Lieutenant General Dennis J. Hejlik led roughly 50 Sailors and Marines into St. Patrick’s. (Yeah, the ACLU will cry “violation of church and state,” but they’re wrong.) The attendees all clapped, and many rose to their feet, when we entered and left the church. The recessional hymn was America the Beautiful. These gestures were very nice and very touching.
Of course, the church congregants weren’t clapping for us personally. They were clapping, instead, for U.S. military personnel, past and present, whom we represented. These are the men and women who risk life and limb so that we might be free. None of us in St. Patrick’s pews, after all, were being shot at, or are at risk of losing a limb or our lives.
On this Memorial Day weekend, let us remember and honor our fellow Americans who have gone into harm’s way to protect and defend us, and who continue to answer the call to duty. They are truly our nation’s best; and we do not understand or appreciate them enough.
John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. You can follow him on Twitter (@Guardian0).