Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Paying Tribute on Memorial Day

Yesterday, I had the great honor and privilege of participating in the Memorial Day ceremony at the Veterans' Memorial at Fort Vancouver. It was a solemn but inspiring occasion, and I am so proud to have been one of the speakers.

Here are my comments from the day:

On thy grave the rain shall fall from the eyes of a mighty nation.
We gather today as individuals with futures of our own determination.
We gather today as shareholders of free will, free speech and freedom of religion.
Yes, we are a mighty nation, but not without significant cost.
Thousands of men and women of our armed forces have fought and died for the inalienable rights we so cherish as American citizens.
And it is at this solemn occasion that we formally honor those who have served our country and sacrificed ultimately for the might of our nation.

To our Gold Star families, President Robert Knight, Colonel Snyder, veterans and active military personnel, honored guests and my fellow citizens, I am humbled to welcome you as we come together this Memorial Day to preserve the memory of those who have fallen in the line of duty. Councilmember Smith, 40 et 8 and the Community Military Appreciation Committee…thank you for your leadership in coordinating this event.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are reminded today that our freedoms were paid for with the lives of many others. We have a tremendous responsibility, as heirs to their legacy, to preserve this greatest of nations. It is simply not enough to be Proud Americans, but to have the courage and the character to simply do what we know is right – protect the security and freedom of our country and others around our world.
This is our obligation.
This is true respect to the memorial of our nation’s war heroes.
Those who serve our country come from all walks of life, all races and all religions. But they share one common bond -- a deep love of and loyalty to -- our country. This common bond allows diverse groups of Americans to achieve monumental goals. The men and women of our armed forces are the defenders of our liberty, and to each and every one of you, please know how proud and blessed we are of you!
There are many ways of paying tribute to these fallen heroes……..pausing for a few moments of personal silence, attending commemorative ceremonies as we are today, placing flags or flowers at gravesites or marching in parades. Whether commemorated individually or collectively, Memorial Day is a day to remember and be thankful for those who gave their lives in the service of our country.
Recently I was touched by an article that I read in the paper about a mother who lost her son in Iraq. Georgette Frank’s son, Lance Cpl. Philip Frank, age 20, was killed in Fallujuah by sniper fire on April 8, 2004. Here in her own words is what Memorial Day has come to mean to her………

Dear Friends,
In the past, I would look forward to Memorial Day. It represented the beginning of the summer and a three day weekend. Then we lost our Phil in Iraq.
Memorial Day has now become a day of reflection and remembrance. It is a day to remember all of our Fallen Heroes from all of the wars. It is a day to think about the families that will forever grieve for their lost loved one. It is a day to be thankful to those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice. They fought and died to win the freedom and democracy that we Americans cherish so dearly. They also fought and died to bring that same freedom and democracy to the people of other countries as well.

As the family of a Fallen Hero, we are so proud of our loved ones who knowingly put themselves in harm’s way so that they could make a difference in the lives of others.
I would like to share an excerpt from a sermon by John Hagee:
“I want you to close your eyes and picture in your mind the soldier at Valley Forge, as he holds his musket in his bloody hand. He stands barefoot in the snow, starved from lack of food, wounded from months of battle and emotionally scarred by the eternity away from his family surrounded by nothing but death and the carnage of war. He stands through, with fire in his eyes and victory on his breath. He looks at us now in anger and disgust and tells us this…..“I gave you a birthright of freedom born in the Constitution and now your children graduate too illiterate to read it. I fought in the snow barefoot to give you the freedom to vote and you stay at home because it rains. I left my family destitute to give you the freedom of speech, and you remain silent on critical issues, because it might be bad for business. I orphaned my children to give you a government to serve you and it has stolen democracy from the people.

“It’s the soldier, not the poet, who gives you the freedom of speech.
"It’s the soldier, not the campus organizer, who allows you to demonstrate.

"It’s the soldier, who salutes the flag, serves the flag, whose coffin is draped with the flag that allows the protester to burn the flag!
“Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. I ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.”

Take a moment this Memorial Day to share the pride that we, the families of the Fallen Heroes, feel.

I want to thank 40et8, Voiture 99 organization who hosts the Community Military Appreciation Committee, for making this memorial service and other events recognizing our military a reality.
God bless you Vicki Walz and your son Christopher.