Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In Memory's Eye

Abe looking out, over the Hudson, at West Point.
The rest of us were walking back to the car, I turned around and saw Abe
still looking.

The view he saw

Dear Soldier,

Thank you. That "thank you" should not be mistaken for a "thanks." No, it means so much more than that. In fact, it means far more than even "thank you" can articulate. I don't think there is even such a word. It's more a feeling; maybe tears silently streaming down; maybe an ardent goodbye kiss; maybe a firm handshake accompanied with direct eye-contact; maybe a congregation singing Battle Hymn of the Republic; maybe even those don't truly capture the meaning in my "thank you."

In honor of you and your service, I have listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing the Spirit of America. I have thanked every veteran I've seen. I have read General Douglas McArthur's Duty, Honor, Country, and I cried through each of them.

Duty-Honor-Country. [Those three words] build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation's defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid. They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep. They give you a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman.

And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead? Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of victory? Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man-at-arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefield many, many years ago, and has never changed. I regarded him then as I regard him now -- as one of the world's noblest figures, not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless. His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give.

He needs no eulogy from me or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy's breast. But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words.

-General Douglas McArthur's final address to his Alma Mater, West Point

I know you are a stranger, that I can't comprehend what you've done for me and my country, but none the less, thank you.


Cali Payne
If you skipped past the quote... get back up there and read it.


Laurie Bingham said...

wow. that was really cool. and deep. i love the way you can express yourself in writing so eloquently.

we haven't talked for a long time. you should call me. because, in fact, i called you last.

p.s. i watched earth to meekus last night. it was awesome

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Oh, Cali. This gave me two tears. (I was so glad I read it in its entirety so I wasn't scolded by your last phrase!...you do make me laugh.)

I'm with Laurie. You do express yourself so well and I love reading your posts.

Thank you for capturing what you did. I love you.

Anonymous said...

Cali........thank you for remembering those who have served and those who have given their all for the freedom of our country......I'am proud of your patriotism........I know you will pass it on...............Love Dad

Darla said...

Oh Cali,

This was a wonderful post. I love the picture of Abe.. I still have tears in my eyes...

HeatherM said...

Cali-you got me. I'm duly scolded, and had to go back and finish the quote. I'm very glad I did. Thank you for posting it. Thank you for saying "thank you". Thank you for distinguishing between that and "thanks". You're quite a gal . . .

Ande Payne said...

That was beautifully written Cali. I love that picture of Abe. I listened to "Duty, Honor, Country" for a class and isn't that the most wonderful speech? Thanks for writting that. Don't we have an awesome family?