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Memorial Day Tribute

Memorial Day 2024 . . . Duty . . . Honor . . . Country . . .
Sadly, I possess neither the eloquence of diction, the imagination, nor the brilliance of metaphor to convey all that these words mean. The unbelievers will say they are mere words . . . a slogan . . . a flamboyant phrase. Cynics will dispute, mock, and ridicule them. Nevertheless, here’s what I think:
They build character, they mold you for your roles as custodians of the nation’s defense; they make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid. They teach you to be proud and unbending in failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for actions, nor to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future yet never neglect the past; to be serious yet never to take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.
They give one a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in each heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be a warrior and a patriot.
And what sort of men and women are these? Their story is known to all of you; it is the story of the American service men and women. I regard them as among the world’s noblest figures, not only as the finest military characters but also as the most stainless. Their names and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In their youth and strength, their love and loyalty they gave, all that mortality can give.
They need no eulogy from me or from any other. They have written their own history. But when I think of their patience under adversity, of their courage under fire, and their modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. They belong to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism, they belong to posterity as the instructors of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom; they belong to the present, to us, by their virtues and achievements. In 20 campaigns, on 100 battlefields, around 1000 campfires, America has witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have endeared them to the hearts of all Americans.
Duty – Honor – Country . . . words embracing the highest moral laws and standing the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the elevation of mankind. The American service men and women, above all others, are required to practice the greatest act of religious training – sacrifice. In battle and in the face of danger and death, they disclose those divine attributes which their Maker gave when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain them. However horrible the incidents of war may be, the men and women who are called upon to offer and to give their lives for their country are mankind’s noblest.
The enduring fortitude, patriotism, and the unsurpassed military aptitude of the American service man and woman will stand forth in undimmed luster. They need no eulogy from me or from any other man; they have written their own history, and when we think of their patience in adversity, their courage under fire, and their modesty in victory, we are filled with emotions we cannot express. Our thoughts this Memorial Day go back to those men and women who went to their last charge. In your mind’s eye you can see them now -- forming grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain of the foxhole, and driving home to their objective, and to the judgement seat of God. We may not know the dignity of their birth, but we do know the glory of their death. May they Rest in Peace! (These are not my own words but an adaptation of orations by a famous American. Can you name him?)

As veterans, let us not forget; as evil external forces attempt to topple our democracy, terrorists continue to disrupt our economy and institutions, and the space race ensues, let us lend our support as the United States continues through training, research, construction, and intelligence gathering to maintain the world’s most powerful armed forces in space, on land, in the air, and on the sea.

Re: Memorial Day Tribute

Thanks for your your relevant and deeply moving post that embraces the truest meaning of Memorial Day, remembering and honoring those who gave their lives while in service to our great nation. I, too, lack the qualities of oration that are uniquely evident in the words expressed therein, and I do not know who that American might be. But, I believe his (or her) words ring true for everyone of the men and women that I was honored to have served with throughout my Naval career. The naysayers might have their own selfish thoughts, words and deeds, but "we" know the truth - that is so eloquently portrayed by the writer.
God bless those who gave their all.

Re: Memorial Day Tribute

A tribute to Memorial Day unlike any other for those who gave all in the defense of our great nation.
Thanks for taking the time and effort Ben. A must read.

And i'll take a shot. President Ronald Reagan?

Re: Memorial Day Tribute

Ronald Regan would also have been my best guess, but....alas, no! Ben divulged his name in an email to me. Hint, he had a brilliant military career (one of what, I believe, they call "The Long Gray Line"??)

Re: Memorial Day Tribute

Well said Ben.