War is far from perfect.
It’s blood, sweat, tears and months - sometimes years - of sacrifice. It’s time away from families, it’s children being born while their father is overseas, it’s knock on the door no one wants to receive.
The ultimate sacrifice - the one that American commemorated Monday with Memorial Day - is a testament to the perfect imperfection of our bond to our soldiers said Dr. Sherry Crissman, EdD USMC/USN Veteran, who was the keynote speaker at the Culpeper National Cemetery Memorial Day Service.
Crissman spoke about perfection and how the quest to achieve perfection can sometimes cause more harm than good.
“What is perfection? Is it achievable? Is it a concept,” she asked. “To me it means ideal. I’m pretty sure our nation was founded on the very principle for the people that we are honoring here today that the idea of perfect ideals being different being OK. Perfect can be the enemy of getting good done. Not being able to recognize when good is OK and being willing to move forward with determination when you’ve achieved good enough can be a stifling grip on an organization, on a family, on a nation.”
She told a story of her husband Dave, and his quest to find the perfect air conditioner after theirs broke on a hot July Florida afternoon.
He courted many HVAC professionals, grilling them with what she jokingly called the “HVAC Inquisition.” She relayed Vince Lombardi’s famous quote: “Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can chase excellence.”
She noted they found maybe not the perfect air conditioner, but an excellent one. It’s a theme that carries over to our nation, she said.
“When it comes to our nation’s core values, for the brave men and women who proceeded us, it was about bravely taking risks, taking risks when faced with imperfect options, not waiting around for the no risk, no fail solution,” Crissman said. “For many of them it was about facing possible, but not probable failure and facing it with honor and courage and conviction. It was about taking that chance. Being brave enough to fail was what they were all about.”
On Memorial Day, the Culpeper National Cemetery was one of 136 national cemeteries in the U.S. that honored veterans that are buried on the hallowed grounds.
“Today is about honoring the men and women who served many giving their very lives for what they believed in, their life and death was not failure but what an ultimate victory was based on,” Crissman said. “It’s about honoring how they handled themselves. Their actions, their services, their sacrifice, was perfect in its imperfection.”
Matthew Priest, Culpeper National Cemetery Director, thanked the crowd of more than 500 people to turning out to keep the memories of our fallen soldiers alive.
“It is said we die two deaths, the first when breath leaves our body for the last time,” Priest said. “The second the last time someone speaks our name or tells your story. It’s the second death the NCA is fighting to make sure never happens. It is essential we preserve our history and share it with future generations to make sure we never forget.”