Memorial Day

To all those who died in combat operations — the 4300 reported dead in Iraq, the 687 reported dead in Afghanistan, those who killed themselves during or because of their service, or whose deaths are in some other way attributable to their service in combat: we honor you, and we will not forget.

Every Memorial Day (and not only then), I try to remind myself of what it means that people who serve in the military are willing to fight and die when our civilian leaders ask them to, whether they agree with those leaders or not. That’s a stunning act of faith in American democracy. In return, we owe everyone who serves the effort to be the best citizens we can be, and to elect the people who are most likely to exercise good judgment about whether and when to ask them to risk their lives.

(We also owe that to the citizens of other countries whom someone might think of invading, and to ourselves, but those are obligations to recall on a different day.)

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