No one builds memorials like the military. No one. Their monuments to memory are built on the blood and bones of friends and brothers.
When our son returned to Fort Hood, Texas from his first deployment to Iraq, we visited him. He was anxious to show us the place where he lived, relaxed, and worked. More than that he was anxious to show us the 4th Infantry memorial from their victory in that bloody and broken part of the world.
In gratitude to the fallen soldiers of the 4th Infantry, the original artist took his bronze bust of Saddam Hussein and recast it. He turned a tyrant’s face into the figure of a grieving soldier as he knelt in the sand before the empty boots, rifle, and helmet of a dead friend.
Behind the soldier a tiny Iraqi girl reaches out to touch his shoulder—in comfort, in gratitude. It is a heart stopping moment of remembrance.
The names of the lost and dead circle the artist’s statue in a curve of glittering stone. Everything about that memorial whispers, “Hush. Hush. Be still. Be quiet. And know that someone died for you.”
We watched a group of teenagers laugh and joke their way across the open field as they came our way. Throwing a Frisbee, they looked what they were—young and happy and alive. Their Frisbee game continued right up to the moment they stepped into the circle of the dead. And then silence—even reverence. One of the girls knelt and lit a candle in front of one of the names on the wall. Her friends stood quietly as she prayed.
When my husband and I got home from Fort Hood we sat in our church’s Sunday meeting. Young men prepared the bread and water for the sacrament, covering it with a clean white cloth. The room around us was filled with chatter and noise. People talked and visited. Church business was done.
I looked again at the sacrament table seeing it for the memorial that it was supposed to represent. I thought of the sacrifice it symbolized, of the blood and bone given for me, of the eternal truth that the price of freedom is blood and always has been.
And I heard a still small voice whisper, “Hush. Hush. Be still. Be quiet. And know that someone died for you.”