“The world bemoans the lifeless hands
The dwarves who died to keep their lands
The valiant souls of Hammerdeep
Shall echo in eternal sleep.”
– from “The Song of Hammerdeep,” by Clamavi de Profundis
I really enjoy a good song. Who doesn’t? This one was written about dwarves in a fantasy world, talks about their strength and nobility and such, and how fiercely they will fight for their homes. This particular stanza, of course, is about the ones who die in battle, and are mourned, their loss felt, their sacrifice remembered.
It seems fitting to share these words when my country is remembering its fallen soldiers. Or, at least, taking an extra day off work in their honor. As with most holidays these days, most people forget what it’s about and just enjoy themselves instead.
In a way, there’s nothing really wrong with that. The men and women who died in service to our country probably did so for our freedom, so we could enjoy ourselves as human beings. They didn’t do it so other people would remember them. That is our own choice, the choice of the living to remember the dead and what they died for. So, it’s not a bad thing to enjoy the holiday. It’s just better, I think, to keep in mind what the day is really for.
There are a number of ways to honor the dead. Going to their graves, tending them, leaving flowers, saying a few words, those are all good. There’s also having a party, a feast, a day of relaxation and recreation, to enjoy the peace and freedom that they died to give us, complete with a toast to the fallen, and thanks given together. There’s quiet study and contemplation, remembering our history, honest conversations, and a personal pledge to support the principles these soldiers died for, and to support the country and soldiers which still defend us. There’s showing some respect, every day, for the flag, and for the surviving veterans.
And there’s simply saying… thank you.
Thank you, brave soldiers, countrymen of generations past and present, for everything you endured, and everything you gave, that we might be free.
I pray that your sacrifices may never be in vain.
May you rest in peace.