Their Chairs Are Empty, but We Know What Their Sacrifice Was For

I think how pleased my fallen comrades would be to see their country still safe, still free, still strong.

“Oh my friends, my friends don’t ask me what your sacrifice was for.” This is where art stops imitating life, the song’s tide turns, and my tears subside. We know—defiantly and with clear eyes—that some great good has come from some horrible bad. We do know what their sacrifice was for.

.. Every society requires warriors to defend its version of civilization. “If none of us is prepared to die for freedom,” the Yale historian Timothy Snyder recently wrote, “then all of us will die under tyranny.”

.. many military mottos: “Free the Oppressed”; “That Others May Live”; “Not for Self, but for Country.” It also lives on in the solemn pride expressed, only this month, by the son of a U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan: “His life was not taken: It was given, to his country.”