it’s veterans day
gina barnhurst (photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty)
it’s a time to pay tribute to those who have served in the u.s. armed forces.
president barack obama led the nation in commemorating this day by laying a wreath at the arlington cemetery.
in his speech, the president said, “today, we gather once more to honor patriots who have rendered the highest service any american can offer this nation — those who fought for our freedom and stood sentry for our security. on this hillside of solemn remembrance and in veterans’ halls and in proud parades across america, we join as one people to honor a debt we can never fully repay.”
among the visitors at arlington today, it’s likely that we’ll find gina barnhurst whose son, lance corporal eric w. herzberg, was felled by a sniper’s bullet in iraq. once a week, she dutifully writes to her son as she kneels before his grave.
“there is a peacefulness about this place,” she wrote in one of those visits. “it is quiet and beautiful and special. i am so proud that you are buried here at arlington. i want the world to know that you are a hero. people need to know the real cost of war – the real cost of freedom – the real sacrifice our service men and women make. they need to know the sacrifice of the people left behind.”
i just hope that the people who initiated the invasion of iraq could see mrs. barnhurst in her moment of grief. it was their decision that put her 20 year-old son in harm’s way. was it worth the ultimate sacrifice? for one thing, she wouldn’t see her son get married and have kids.
“he was just a beautiful person,” she said. “he was fun, he was sensitive. and the thing i hate the most is that he’s not going to be a daddy. he was really great with kids.”
fatherhood and what appeared to be a bright future died with him.
“in the life of our nation, across every generation,” president obama continued, “there are those who stand apart. they step up, they raise their hands, they take that oath. they put on the uniform and they put their lives on the line. they do this so that the rest of us might live in a country and a world that is safer, freer, and more just. this is the gift they’ve given us. this is the debt that we owe them.”
on this special day, it’s only right and proper that we bow our heads and pay our deepest respects to mrs. barnhurst’s son eric and to all his brethren in the armed forces both living and dead.
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