Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

One Marine major explains why he is fighting.
Meet Maj. Chris Curtain of the 10th Marine Regiment, a 35-year-old out of Bridgeport, Conn., Norwich University and - most recently - the Syrian-Iraq frontier.

That on-again, off-again hotspot doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves. Once upon a time it was a sieve; al Qaeda fighters and other terrorists entered Iraq with virtual impunity and then set about their deadly tasks.

Lately the traffic has been choked down - not eliminated, but perhaps brought under control. That's a critical step in controlling the Iraqi insurgency.

For this, thank Curtain and his comrades.

Pressed for details, the major smiles wryly, a hint of amusement in his eyes, and just keeps his counsel. It wasn't his first trip to Iraq, nor is it likely to be his last - and if not Iraq, then somewhere equally as demanding, equally as dangerous.

Such is life for a major of Marines as the Long War proceeds. He has a wife and three children, but America must come first. They know it, he knows it - and that raises a fundamental question.

Why?

"I love my country," Curtain says.

That's it?

"The adventure," he adds. "And I like the people."

The twinkle leaves his eyes.

"I am part of something larger than myself. I am part of an organization that stands for something."

Indeed it does, and thank God for that.
And for those of us on the sidelines, here at home, there is this word from Christopher Hitchens.
This Memorial Day, one might think particularly of those of our fallen who also guarded polling-places, opened schools and clinics, and excavated mass graves. They represent the highest form of the citizen, and every man and woman among them was a volunteer. This plain statement requires no further rhetoric.