A day of remembrance and thanksgiving for our freedoms
by Don McKee
May 26, 2013 11:14 PM | 850 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
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This day is set aside “to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again,” said President Ronald Reagan in a Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery in 1986.

What he said eloquently defines the meaning of this day of remembrance and thanksgiving for the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifices of those who died in service to our country.

Reagan spoke of some of the heroes buried at Arlington, and then he said:

“Not far from here is the statue of the three servicemen — the three fighting boys of Vietnam. It, too, has majesty and more.

Perhaps you’ve seen it — three rough boys walking together, looking ahead with a steady gaze. There’s something wounded about them, a kind of resigned toughness.

But there’s an unexpected tenderness, too.

At first you don’t really notice, but then you see it. The three are touching each other, as if they’re supporting each other, helping each other on.

I know that many veterans of Vietnam will gather today, some of them perhaps by the wall. And they’re still helping each other on.

They were quite a group, the boys of Vietnam — boys who fought a terrible and vicious war without enough support from home, boys who were dodging bullets while we debated the efficacy of the battle.

It was often our poor who fought in that war; it was the unpampered boys of the working class who picked up the rifles and went on the march. They learned not to rely on us; they learned to rely on each other.

And they were special in another way: They chose to be faithful. They chose to reject the fashionable skepticism of their time. They chose to believe and answer the call of duty. They had the wild, wild courage of youth.

They seized certainty from the heart of an ambivalent age; they stood for something.

And we owe them something, those boys.

We owe them first a promise: That just as they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we. And there are other promises. We must always remember that peace is a fragile thing that needs constant vigilance.

We owe them a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, knowing that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong.

That, of course, is the lesson of this century, a lesson learned in the Sudetenland, in Poland, in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia, in Cambodia.

If we really care about peace, we must stay strong. If we really care about peace, we must, through our strength, demonstrate our unwillingness to accept an ending of the peace.

We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does.

That’s the lesson of this century and, I think, of this day.”

dmckee9613@aol.com
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