They were men of the 101st Airborne Brigade. Members of Easy Company. Soldiers of war.
I watched We Stand Alone Together and other parts of the WWII television documentary Band of Brothers honoring Easy Company and the contributions they made to the allied victory. It was a testimony to the courage of individual men, the vision and tenacity of leaders (who weren’t always identifiable by rank) and the solidarity of American home support.
I watched it on the third anniversary of the 9/11 attack. The day the world changed forever for Americans and our allies. Changed forever one more time. In Paris, Boston, Manchester, Alexandria terrorists keep adding hate, violence and death to the “changed forever one more time.”
Interspersed throughout the battle reenactments, surviving soldiers recalled friends, enemies and history. These now elderly gentlemen sacrificed much to give us the gift of a safe homeland, a gift that lasted nearly fifty years.
I thought they deserved to be heard before they and their memories pass on –even if I was only one listener, alone in the dark. Touched by their motto, which came from a Native American name for a mountain where they trained. We stand alone is a worthy mantra.
I am my brother’s keeper, but only if I am worthy. I have to be willing to stand alone, before others will trust me to stand alongside them.
We stand alone together when we say, “Not in this house,” and turn off the vulgar, the violent, the lewd and the offensive–whether it’s a television show, a song, a radio disc jockey, a hateful rant, political lie, or a video game. It makes it easier for other parents, and for our children when they begin to parent.
We stand alone together when we say, “You’re out of here” to politicians, athletes, entertainers and businesspersons who want a free ride and no accountability. When we say, “You’re out of here” to those who use drugs or break laws or violate our youth; to those who shoplift, are unkind, or drink and drive. To those who kill others they don’t even know because they feed on hate and dishonor their families, their nation.
We stand alone together when we say, “Come for Thanksgiving Dinner or because I can see you are stressed or hungry, or new to the neighborhood” and start the celebration by giving thanks. It may be listening to a Native American drummer, a Scottish bagpipe, a poem, or a prayer written by the youngest member of the family. It may be by asking each guest to express what he or she is thankful for, or it may be a moment of silence to remember, honor and praise. It may be a compliment, a smile, or simply, “I understand what you are saying, and hopefully we can agree to disagree but still be friends.”
We stand alone together when we send words of thanks to veterans in our hospitals and soldiers in Iraq and throughout the world–and help their struggling families in their absences.
We stand alone together when wherever we go, there we are.
So, sixteen years ago I wrote the above except for the sentences in blue. It published in Portland Family Magazine in, my then monthly column, “Family Gram”™ which I retained rights to–for moments like this I guess. I updated it two years ago. Today, there is nothing I would change except to add that we stand alone together by being strong against that which is bad and that which is evil (and they are different). We need to be as strong for championing what is right and good. We do this in our homes, our courtrooms and with boots on the ground when it is absolutely necessary. Today, for our children and grandchildren, it is absolutely necessary.
“Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” Written by the French philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville when he came to America in the 1830’s.