Reposted from 2009
Today I read the Declaration of Independence. As an elementary student I had memorized the famous memorable single sentence of the document that states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..." Yet I am ashamed to say that I had never read the Declaration in its entirety. When I read through to the last sentence before the signers affixed their names to the document, my heart was pierced: "as Free and Independent States, they [we] have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." ...to the British the Declaration of Independence was an act of treason punishable by death, so the men who so boldly pledged their Lives, their Fortunes, and their sacred Honor had already counted the cost. From that day forward to the present day, there has been no turning back.
I am a citizen of the United States of America. I have lived so long in the land of the free and the home of the brave that I have neglected to thoughtfully consider the cost and the sacrifice of those who have gone before me. This is Veteran's Day, the day when we pay tribute and honor those who are called to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States. Ponder those words: called to serve. Called to uphold duty, honor, and country. No matter the cost. The cost was high last week in Fort Hood, Texas, for thirteen men and women. The cost will be high today in Afghanistan and Iraq and places near and far when men and women wear the uniform with dignity and pride. In a nation that tends to politicize every action of every sort and thereby polarize the people, I plan today to do neither. I will get down on my knees and thank God for a father, a father-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, grandfathers and countless others who have answered the call of duty to serve our country. I will also thank God for those born and yet unborn who will also serve. I will pass no judgment on those who cannot serve or are opposed to the military for today is not a day to stand on one side or another. Today is a day to stand together and to say thank you....for as long as there remain those who will pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor in defense of a country that they hold dear, then you and I will be able to live in this land as free men and women.
In honor and loving remembrance of my father, Thomas David Scofield, United States Air Force (1927-1962), Veteran of the Korean War, United States Military Academy, West Point Class of 1950.