Monday, October 22, 2012

A sober reminder and our common duty.

I was reminded over the weekend of a whole class of veteran the country largely forgets.  These people put their lives on the line just like the military.  They often wear the same combat uniform and equipment the military wears, are flown to combat in the same kind of aircraft and are often killed the same way our brave military folks are killed.

But while the military people come home in flag draped coffins with photographers and family members waiting to greet them, these people get a quiet homecoming.  No press, no photographers.  Just high ranking officials of the CIA and often, the President.

They are memorialized on a wall in the lobby of the CIA headquarters building in Langley, Va., a location which few Americans will ever visit and no foreigners are allowed - even permanent residents. The stars engraved on the marble wall represent all of the CIA employees ever killed in the line of duty, and their names are inscribed in a book that sits on a podium at the base of that wall.

But not these very special people.  Their names are secret, their work lives are secret and the very operation that got them killed will most likely never be declassified.  Their names are taken by a placeholder against the possible days when they can be recognized, long after we are dead and gone.

They are nameless, yet, they are not forgotten.  They have given the greatest measure of sacrifice a person can give for another - their lives.  It is due to these very special unknown people that we owe our freedom.  Their deaths over the years have been critical in maintaining this country's ability to know what our enemies are doing and to be prepared to respond or cut short the attacks of our enemies on our interests.  They have saved countless American lives.

I am a Federal employee, with (including my military service) 38 years devoted to protecting and defending the Constitution.

But my service pales before theirs.  Any thoughts I may have ever had about "sacrifice" simply fade away like wisps of fog on a crisp fall morning when I contemplate the things these people have given up in the battle to defend this country.  Time with their families, friends, and comfortable living with a regular schedule are only the beginnings of what these people have given up, have denied themselves and their loved ones during their years of service.  And, finally, their lives.

If there is today, anyone who can be described as a committed American, these can.

They make the rest of us look like squabbling schoolchildren, fighting over who is first in line.

Go vote.

You owe it to them.  We all do.

No comments: