I am unqualified to write about Memorial Day. I have not fought for our country. No relative of mine died for our country. I don’t know what it’s like to serve in the armed forces, let alone to die in the armed forces. I’m a non-participant, a bystander, a freeloader.
And yet I write. I write as a celebrant. I enjoy my life of freedom and opportunity in the United States because of the sacrifices of those who died for us.
The men and women who serve in the armed forces come to that place by many paths, drawn by many lights and hauling many things. Today we celebrate the men and women who came to serve, and died while there. They all exited on the same path, never made it to the light they sought and took nothing with them. We hold them in high esteem because they gave their lives, their future and their worldly goods for the benefit of the United States of America. Fate chose today’s honorees for that role, and I offer that they are the ultimate philanthropists of the United States, bar none.
At TisBest, we define “philanthropy” as:
Giving one’s time, talent or treasure to create positive change.
You might measure philanthropy by how much is given, relative to what others give. From that perspective, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are the ultimate philanthropists in the United States. You might alternatively measure philanthropy by how much is given, relative to what one has. From that perspective, soldiers killed in the line of duty are the ultimate philanthropists. To their country, they gave every minute of time left in their life, every talent they ever developed and would never develop and they left behind every treasure they owned. So maybe the ultimate philanthropists are Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who generously cordoned off a pile of treasure for the benefit of all mankind. Or maybe the ultimate philanthropists are John and Mary, who marched into battle under the stars and stripes and went home in coffins. Although I don’t know who gave more, I do know that John and Mary gave absolutely everything they had.
Thank you, John and Mary, for your gifts.