Well, here we are. Welcome to my little corner of the blog-o-sphere. It's been one heck of a ride since Friday when we started this grand adventure. If you followed the tour schedule, you're coming here from JL Oakley's blog over at: http://historyweaver.wordpress.com. And now you're here, at the end of it all.
First off: if you've missed any of the other blogs during Blog Tour de Troops, you should go check those out. My post can wait until your done. This is one of those things that you're really going to want to save for the very end.
Second, I've been so moved by the support everyone has shown for our troops, I'm not going to give just one book coupon to people who comment, I'm going to give three, and send those three books to a soldier for everyone who posts. You'll be getting coupon codes for First Chosen, Halloween Jack and the Devil's Gate, and Knight of the Living Dead. Surprise!
Third: When I saw that I had the last spot on the tour, and that I was going to be wrapping the whole thing up, I must admit to feeling a little intimidated. I started wracking my brain, trying to come up with something to bring all these wonderful posts together with some semblance of a conclusion. Here is my contribution to our collective honoring of the men and women who serve our country and defend our freedoms.
In the 19th century, toasts were a very important and formalized part of military conduct. Toasting at meals and social gatherings both in the army and navy was highly ritualized. The last, or ultimate, toast of the evening was reserved for the country the soldiers served. The second to last, or penultimate, toast was to honor those comrades in arms who had fallen in service to their country. After any exchange with an enemy where the forces were even remotely closely matched, it could be almost guaranteed that one of their brothers in arms was absent, and would never be joining them again.
The glasses would be raised in honor of the fallen, and the words spoken were simple, "To absent friends."
We are fortunate in the United States to have a volunteer military. Men and women choose the wear a uniform knowing that they might one day be called upon to lay down their lives in those uniforms, and it means that sometimes, all to frequently, someone is missing from the table at the mess who will never join his or her fellow soldiers again. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and children will also never sit at a holiday meal with these heroes. Too many of us know of someone who has chosen to wear a uniform, gone off to defend our way of life, and will not return.
And so, as I close out the Blog Tour de Troops, I can think of no more fitting words than simply:
"To absent friends."
"In these pages many mysteries are hinted at.
What if you come to understand one of them?"
"Words let water from an unseen, infinite ocean
Come into this place as energy for the dying and even the dead."
"Bored onlookers, but with such Light in our eyes!
As we read this book, the jewel-lights intensify."