"Whosoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother, or who thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow mockery...”
"This ceremony” was the dedication of the U.S. Marine Cemetery on Iwo Jima shortly after the fighting ended in March 1945. The words are those of Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn, Lt. USN (1910-95) of the Fifth Marine Division.
I was unfamiliar with Lt. Gittelsohn’s words until I read them, perhaps not coincidentally, on Veteran’s Day, in “Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine”.
Gittelsohn ministered to Marines throughout the horrific fighting on that tiny volcanic spec in the ocean.
Reminiscent of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, I want to share his words here in honor of all Veterans who have served our great nation.
Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors generations ago helped in her founding. And other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores. Here lie officers and men, Negroes and Whites, rich men and poor, together. Here are Protestants, Catholics, and Jews together. Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color. Here there are no quotas of how many from each group are admitted or allowed. Among these men there is no discrimination. No prejudices. No hatred. Theirs is the highest and purest democracy...
Whosoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother, or who thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow mockery. To this then, as our solemn sacred duty, do we the living now dedicate ourselves: To the right of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, of White men and Negroes alike, to enjoy the democracy for which all of them have here paid the price...
We here solemnly swear this shall not be in vain. Out of this and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this, will come, we promise, the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere."
These sentiments and the terrible cost they commemorate are reminders of how great our country really is.
American Exceptionalism has freed more people in the world from tyranny, poverty and disease and has done more to help the human race prosper than all the rest of the countries of the world added up throughout history. And sometimes the cost has been high.
I am proud of America. Are we perfect? No.
But, contemplate a world without an America willing stand up to injustice.
Read, The World America Made by Robert Kagan and consider if the two institutions that have brought the world relative peace and prosperity; democracy and the market economy, would even exist without America's Veterans.
I will end with some words with which we should all be familiar:
IT IS THE SOLDIER - Charles M. Province
It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.”
Thank you Veterans, for making America, and American Exceptionalism, possible.
Read more at www.rickoltman.us
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. --Winston Churchill