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Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

A Salute

Memorial Poppy

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27 May 2019

It is an unusual Memorial Day. The president is in Japan giving a grotesquely large trophy to sumo wrestlers rather than laying a memorial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Remembering the Fallen. Nikon Coolpix P5000 at f6.4, 1/366 second and ISO 64.

That might smack of dereliction of duty except the man has proposed celebrating Memorial Day by pardoning people who have committed war crimes while wearing the uniform.

As one vet put it:

Today, one of the things that protects our troops morally and physically is the knowledge that if anybody in uniform does commit a crime, they will be held accountable by military justice.

For a president, especially a president who never served, to say he's going to come in and overrule that system of military justice undermines the very foundations, legal and moral, of this country.

Better a president like that is derelict than on duty. "Unusual" probably isn't the right word to describe today.

It wasn't long ago that we had a president who knew how to honor our fallen:

A nation reveals itself not only by the people it produces, but by those it remembers. We do so not just by hoisting a flag, but by lifting up our neighbors, not just by pausing in silence but by practicing in our own lives the ideals of opportunity and liberty and equality that they fought for.

Fighting for ideals is a little different than fighting for a trophy. You can, as a million Americans have, lose your life.

It's those men and women we remember today.

Looking through our archive for an image to honor them, as we've done here every year since we began publishing Photo Corners, we came across this one of Arlington West, a temporary display put up in several places for a number of years to honor those who gave their lives in Iraq.

This particular installation by Veterans for Peace was constructed in Santa Barbara in 2007. We worried it was a little out of date.

Then we remembered what today is all about. How long ago someone died doesn't matter. What matters is that they gave their life in the service of their country.

When the memorial was first deployed in 2003, each cross represented a single life. There were 340 then. But even by 2007 that was getting to be impractical. There are 3,000 in this image representing 3,415 lives.

And the crosses, after all, only mark the Christians. Separate markers, seen in the foreground, were used for Muslims and for Jews.

That's quite a few crosses stretched in rows on the sand. There would be nearly twice as many to come. It is hard to fathom what a million would look like.

It's an old picture, yes. But the finality of the sacrifice it represents is not diminished by time. All that is left of many of the fallen is a photograph.

Until, that is, we take a moment to remember them on this solemn day and, as a president once said, practice the ideals for which their sacrifice was made.

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