Monday, May 27, 2013

Remembering Unsung Heroes

While Memorial Day first developed as a way to honor the 620,000 soldiers who died on both sides in the American Civil War and then grew to honor all the men and women of the military who have given their lives in defense of our country, I've always wondered about the relative handful who were, in essence, "secret soldiers."

I'm speaking of clandestine operatives, such as those in the C.I.A., who only get an anonymous star on a wall at C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Why shouldn't we honor them, as well? I suppose it's personal for me because my father served in the C.I.A. for some 15 years. While he's retired and still alive today, I know the kinds of dangers he and his fellow intelligence agents faced in order to circumvent, prevent, shorten, or end wars. Imagine the numbers of soldiers' lives that were saved by their heroic efforts.

Fortunately, the Agency has begun a yearly tradition of commemorating those who have fallen while in service in a special ceremony held around Memorial Day. It took them about 40 years to do so, however. If you're curious about how it finally came to be, see this link. It was only in 1989 that non-Agency family members were first invited to attend. In 1995, all the memorialized names represented by those anonymous stars were read aloud for the first time. There are currently 103 stars on that wall.

This Memorial Day, let's remember and honor all of those who have fought and died for our country--the named and the unnamed.

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