America has no kings or queens, but we do have a nobility. America’s nobility is called – veterans. Their titles range from private to sergeant to general. Or – simply – GI. Our premier titles, however, are KIA, WIA and POW.
Unlike other nobilities, these titles were not inherited; they were earned through their blood, sweat and tears, the holy trinity that secures our freedom.
Arlington is set to become the official site of the National Medal of Honor Museum, home to those of America’s nobility who have earned that prestigious distinction.
A preacher friend of mine once said if love is to survive it must be expressed. The same is true of patriotism. Love is our life, patriotism is the life of our nation, and it is in danger. A democratic society cannot survive without patriots.
We see alarming signs of declining pride in America among our youth. Less than a majority are extremely proud to be an American. A source of our declining pride in America may be the dismal state of our basic knowledge of who we are as a nation. A majority of our youth cannot pass a quiz on basic American history. You cannot love who we are if you don’t know who we are. The decline in patriotism based on a lack of pride and knowledge of America could prove disastrous in any crisis. Our youth need to understand the wonders of our country if we are to survive.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn warned about the danger of a “nation amputating its memory, and of silent generations growing old and dying without ever talking about themselves either to each other or to their descendants.”
The highest form of patriotism is service to our youth. The NMHM will be a center for expressing and regenerating patriotism; and talking to each other and our descendants about our nobility. It will be a classroom for patriotism in our youth, of the importance of courage and sacrifice in their life and the life of our nation.
We have museums on wars, on services, on branches of service, on functions, even on race. The National Medal of Honor Museum will encompass all wars from the Civil War on, all services, all branches all functions, all religions and all races.
It will identify and tie the individual values that win on the battlefield to the education of those who will win the future of America. This museum will be a vault for our values. It will focus on the values part of valor.
Visitors will learn that Medal of Honor recipients not only defended our country, they helped design, develop and enrich it. What they did in combat pales before what they did for America. Visitors will learn that physical courage can win a battle, but moral courage can change the world.
That person will see on Mount Rushmore not only great Americans but a MOH recipient, Theodore Roosevelt, who spoke the motto of the museum: “The lives of true heroism are those in which there are no great deeds to look back on, the little things well done go to make up a successful and truly good life.” Our youth will learn the importance of patriotism, that they can be a hero and they don’t have to go war to do so.
Future editions will continue to tell the stories of our nobility to be housed in the NMHM.