May 18, 2005


Guest opinion submitted by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

Sixty seconds; 24 haunting notes; shorter than most pieces of music, but more powerful in its simplicity and clarity than possibly any other musical composition in America, and more familiar. Taps stops people, literally or figuratively, in their tracks, calling up memories of those who fought for our country and have since passed on. Two years ago, on a chilly April day, these notes drifted across Arlington National Cemetery as an Idaho family and friends bid farewell to a father lost in the first days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Last year the Idaho Veteranâ??s Cemetery opened in Boise, and the haunting bugle filled the air that warm July day. This past November and just last month, the bugle again mourned the loss of young Idaho sons. On Memorial Day, those same notes will sound in the foothills above Boise yet again, marking the first Memorial Day of the newly-opened cemetery, the final home for Idahoâ??s fallen heroes. These notes and this day give Idahoans and Americans across the world the chance to remember those who have defended our freedom across generations. While there is debate about where the first Memorial Day was held, most agree it began in 1866. In 1868, Major General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic chose May 30. General Loganâ??s orders stated that his posts should decorate graves â??with the choicest flowers of springtimeâ?? and he directed his troops to â??guard their graves with sacred vigilance. ... Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.â?? This year, Memorial Day falls again in a time of war. Families and friends have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Almost 1,800 American lives have been lost in combat zones worldwide since 2001. Almost 13,000 have been wounded in the same time period. Over the past four years, more than a dozen Idaho troops have given their lives in the cause of freedom. Many others bear scars, visible and invisible, from the ongoing war on terror. Idahoans know well the cost of a â??free and undivided republic.â?? We honor those who have given their lives in the current conflict as well as those who have sacrificed in past wars; at the same time we focus thoughts and prayers on those defending our freedom today, especially our deployed Idaho troops. These men and women uphold Idahoâ??s proud tradition of fighting for the safety and preservation of the United States of America. Soldiers of the 116th, Marines and Airmen, reserve, guard and active duty, have temporarily left Idaho to answer the call of a country in need. This Memorial Day, we celebrate their bravery, patriotism and sense of duty. We thank them for their sacrifice and happily anticipate their safe and healthy return. Words that have been put to Taps since the Civil War impart a thoughtful sense of peace. Taps is more than a farewell. It is an eloquent and simple prayer of peaceful rest and safety for our loved ones in harmâ??s way. Day is done,Gone the sun,From the hills,From the lake,From the sky.All is well, safely restGod is nigh.Go to sleep,Peaceful sleep,May the soldier or sailor,God keep.On the landOr the deep,Safe in sleep.WORD COUNT: 579