What's best about our country, rests on our veterans' shoulders

We often do not observe Veterans Day as it should be. It's a day where we actively remember our ancestors, our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones and our family members who have served for the betterment of this great nation.

The thing to remember about war is that there are very few moments of individual gallantry. The individual combatant rarely dwarfs his surroundings. No John Waynes to ride through a hail of enemy fire to save the day.

In fact, those one-dimensional embodiments of masculine striving are usually the first to die. Moments of war rarely allow for clarity.

War is a chaos where platoons of men are condemned to slaughter one another. War is a horror where one is ordered to kill strangers, to run in the face of enemy fire, to ignore the sight of his friends as they crumple to the ground. This lack of clarity becomes transparent to every soldier as his captain shouts, "Over the top, men, everyone out!"

In that moment, each soldier finds himself engulfed in death and confusion. There is a scene in Steven Spielberg's film "Saving Private Ryan,” in which a young man has his arm blown off. He stumbles around, gazing at his shattered limb, unsure of what to do.

War is detached horror.

War is confusion.

I mention this only to point out that those veterans who grappled with man's worst did so to preserve man's best. As we remember our veterans, it hardly seems enough to remember these soldiers in cliques of gallantry.

It is not enough to reduce the service of our patriots to an excuse for a really big sale — as do retailers.

It is not enough to dilute this holiday with ostentatious displays of consumerism and pageantry. After all, the importance of celebrating Veterans Day is not to celebrate per se, but to confirm the significance of their sacrifice.

Let us not forget that what is best about this country rests on our veterans' shoulders.

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