Sometimes people ask me how I can be so devoted to a mission so centered on death. That question misses the whole point of what we are trying to do when we remember the dead and their sacrifices. Every headstone in a military cemetery, every monument by the side of a road, every plaque honoring a soldier in a small town, every name inscribed on a village monument, all of these don't signify death, but signify what those deaths have accomplished.
Every memorial is a celebration of the freedoms we enjoy, of the mutual sacrifices and struggles endured to achieve those freedoms, and of the great US-European cooperation that continues to this day because of those struggles. Certainly a war monument is a remembrance of the past, but it is also a beacon for the future. It is a reminder for all of us to constantly nourish our ties to other countries and other peoples. It is a way of keeping memories alive, not to dwell on sadness and death, but to think about heroism and sacrifice and freedom.
Are all these monuments worth saving? Absolutely! Every monument has a story to be told and cherished. These heroes died in a terrible struggle, but their memory lives on, and we enjoy the fruits of their sacrifice every day. Our gratitude should include keeping these memories alive by maintaining the monuments as best we can.
Lillian A. Pfluke
American War Memorials Overseas, Inc.