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Delaney: Veterans Day Reflections

11/11/10 7:55AM By Dennis Delaney
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(HOST)  This Veterans Day, commentator Dennis Delaney is thinking about the real meaning of military service.   

(DELANEY)  I don't mean to confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day - a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

I realize that Memorial Day - the fourth Monday in May - specifically honors American service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans - living or dead - who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

But this year I can't help thinking about the most recent young Vermonters to die in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  Tristan Southworth of Walden and Anthony "Chuckie" Rosa of Swanton both gave their lives in Afghanistan.  

Tristan Southworth died in August and Chuckie Rosa in September. Tristan was a star athlete and an "A" student at Hazen Union while Chuckie was honored in his senior yearbook at Missisquoi Union as having the "best smile and laugh" in his class. After school he worked at Ste. Marie's Deli.

The report of Sgt. Southworth's death says that he died "trying to rescue a fallen soldier". He was 22. Just days before Chuckie Rosa fell he told his mom that "some of the guys in his platoon", his buddies, hadn't heard from their families so would his mom put together some care packages for them. Chuckie was 20.

Humankind has never come up with a universally acceptable explanation for death - a reason or logic that makes complete sense to us. Since we all face death eventually, we would like to understand it, but there is no "one size fits all" response to that question. We are each on our own.

If some of us, and I count myself as one, find it difficult to accept that two so young and shining died on a field of battle, we can still acknowledge their last acts as moments that transcend reason.

If an understanding of death eludes us, we can still be inspired by the loyalty, courage, generosity and resolve that were evident in the character of these two young soldiers, just boys really. And perhaps logic would only serve to diminish the luster of their sacrifice, when we should instead burnish it with awe.

There's a passage from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet that reflects my mood this Veterans Day.  He wrote:

Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine,
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

We can't really touch the stars - but they can remind us of both those who serve with honor, and those who paid the ultimate price.

(TAG) For more commentaries by Dennis Delaney, go to VPR-dot-net.
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