The ritual surrounding the Tomb of the Unknowns is special. It is a potent symbol of the ultimate sacrifice, made by those who cannot be returned to their loved ones, who perhaps can never be laid to rest, and who gave not only their life but their name to their country. The poignant paradox is that by losing their identity, they have transcended it. The unknown soldier becomes every soldier. (The Washington Post)
This Memorial Day, we remember our fallen soldiers. Many have died in combat, but increasingly, for off-duty members of the National Guard and Army Reserves, soldiers are dying by their own hands. Nationally, the number of those who’ve committed suicide has nearly doubled from 80 in 2009 to 145 last year.
A bugler blows taps at the close of Memorial Day service at the American Military Cemetery, Margraten, The Netherlands, where lie thousands of American heroes of World War II. April 30, 1945. (National Archives)
Cpl. Brandon Michael Kirton, 25, a 101st Airborne Division Soldier from Centennial, Colo., died May 18 after being struck by insurgent small arms fire and mortar rounds in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.
D-Day: Chief Photographer’s Mate Robert F. Sargent took this photograph just as a group of soldiers stepped off a Coast Guard landing craft and headed for the Normandy beaches. (June 6, 1944 via National Archives)