They stood, and earth's foundations stay.
What God abandoned, these defended...
We stop and spend time, every year, as a nation, navel-gazing and mirror-gazing and looking down the long marble rows of history. We do this to celebrate the freedoms that are bought with sacrifice, to re-state the convictions that are rooted in bone and watered in blood, and to raise up our fallen with voice and prayer. Some people make this a modern political spectacle, while others make this a religious moment. All people who mark this day in true spirit do so in gratitude and solemn recognition. There are some people whose chosen duty took as payment the very futures that they sought to protect, while others are honored at the very end of long lives for the time out of time that they spent serving and protecting others.
It does not matter what the name of the service group, or the name of the conflict, or, when carved into the mountain of Time, who the person was who served. It is the deed itself, the shoulder to the wall, the faces raised in violence and purpose, the rumbling shout of hope and defiance, and that last helping hand when the body and mind are failing, that hold the world together. It is the belief and faith to family, work, duty, society, government, (and freedom of that belief and faith) that cements tribes into a nation.
This nation, in turn, stops and offers thanks today to those who come together in all services and all forms of work. We remember the gifts, the deeds, and the heroes, and offer some small amount of hope that those works - great and small - are never in vain.