Memorial Day 2011 comes as thousands of Americans are deployed around the world in the uniformed services of the United States. Inevitably, honoring the fallen and honoring veterans goes together with honoring those who currently serve in our place with their lives on the line.
I have experienced some of the most moving moments in my life as I perused in military cemeteries. The lump in your throat thicken as a thousand thoughts start rushing through your mind of the bravery and the pain and the host of young lives sacrificed that we might be free. How often have I said it to myself and to my family and friend; “Freedom in not Free!” The solemn call of gratitude speaks louder than words as you gaze upon line after line of those simple white markers that shout out to you the cost of freedom.
It is important that we remember in our prayers those families whose grief is so powerful and so recent. Don’t let the sun set on this Memorial Day without remembering them. There are spouses, parents, children, brothers, sisters, and friends who grieve by the thousands and over the thousands of our troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Certainly we must celebrate our freedom and not feel guilty about it. But in our celebration let us not forget the debt paid. All across this nation the fallen lie, along with many thousands of their fellows, whose graves now lie in foreign lands. Six-thousans dead and 43,000 wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan (to date) is a debt we cannot pay back
Those were the words of poet Will Carleton speaking of the Civil War dead, “Cover them with beautiful flowers, deck them with garlands these brothers of ours, lying so silent by night and by day.”.Memorial Day is more than a national holiday, it is a sacred observance. As a nation we must be reminded again and again that. throughout the history of this republic, soldiers, sailors and airmen have given their lives for the sacred cause of liberty. Even to this very hour freedom is being defended at great cost. The narrative of our standing and fallen heroes is the continuous story of noble and sacrificial service. Those who stand in harms way for us everyday, stand in a proud and glorious line, starting with the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord, and continuing down to those who so proudly do so today.
On this day many will visit the Memorials in the nation’s capital. These magnificent structures are eloquent reminders of the human cost for liberty paid by lives laid down in battle. Every local memorial and cenotaph is an important statement to us all not to forget for otherwise succeeding generations would forget.
May each of you enjoy a happy and fulfilling Memorial Day! Celebrate but do not forget the sacred tradition of honoring those who have worn and now wear the uniform; the soldiers, sailors and airmen who protected the land, the sea and sky; our families, our churches, our institutions, our liberties, for you, for you.
God Bless America and God Bless You!