Army soldiers grieve together during the memorial service in honor of the thirteen victims of the shooting rampage allegedly by U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan in Fort Hood, Texas.
Veterans Day should not be a sad day.
Yet, in the days before America pauses to honor the men and women who have fought for this great nation, the country was forced to note the awful handiwork of two one-time soldiers who dishonored their country and their comrades, John Allen Muhammad and Nidal Malik Hasan.
Muhammad, an Army veteran, was executed Tuesday evening, nine years after launching a sniper shooting spree that terrorized the Washington D.C. area and left 10 people dead. With Muhammad now dead, the families of his victims can get some peace -- and the Army can forget about one of their own who went evil.
Hasan's crime is still fresh in our minds. His attack at Fort Hood last week left 13 dead and 30 injured. An investigation is barely underway, but this much we know: The Army psychiatrist was trained to offer comfort to his brehtren, but instead gunned them down without mercy within the walls of their own compound.
President Obama, who stumbled badly in initially addressing the shootings, helped wipe away the nation's tears as well as the stains the likes of Muhammad and Hasan left on the uniforms of their fellow service members. The president gave a powerful testimonial Tuesday to the victims of Hasan's mad rampage -- and the mission to which they had committed themselves:
Their memory will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched. Their life's work is our security, and the freedom that we too often take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - that is their legacy.
Neither this country - nor the values that we were founded upon - could exist without men and women like these thirteen Americans.
Obama correctly declared the targets of Hasan's hate-fueled attack true heroes. Consider three lives cut short by a madman:
Specialist Jason Hunt was also recently married, with three children to care for. He joined the Army after high school. He did a tour in Iraq, and it was there that he re-enlisted for six more years on his 21st birthday so that he could continue to serve.
Staff Sergeant Amy Krueger was an athlete in high school, joined the Army shortly after 9/11, and had since returned home to speak to students about her experience. When her mother told her she couldn't take on Osama bin Laden by herself, Amy replied: "Watch me."
Private First Class Aaron Nemelka was an Eagle Scout who just recently signed up to do one of the most dangerous jobs in the service - defuse bombs - so that he could help save lives. He was proudly carrying on a tradition of military service that runs deep within his family.
Shakespeare wrote that "the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones." On this Veterans Day, we can hope that the exact reverse is true for Muhammad and Hasan: Let their evil go with them to their graves. Instead, let the lives, courage and patriotism of the 13 slain be remembered and celebrated.
And remember that hundreds of thousands more brave patriots remain, ready to sacrifice all to guarantee that America's values will extend for centuries yet to come.