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Memorial Day Speech/Remarks
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Posted 2012-05-28 9:16 AM (#571667)
Subject: Memorial Day Speech/Remarks


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Here is the speech/remarks I had the honor of delivering at my town's Memorial Day recognition this morning.

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The recognition of Memorial Day has — in some capacity — always been part of my life.

When I was child I participated in the parades as a cub scout, and as a player in Little League baseball. But I am sure I really did not understand the purpose of Memorial Day. I know I did not know based on a comment I made to a neighbor while I was in college.

This befriended neighbor was a former active-duty Marine. And his brother was a Navy Chaplain serving with the Marines. I knew I would be joining the Marines and had a natural affinity to this Marine. On a Memorial Day I saw him outside his house, and walked over to say “Hello”. Being Memorial day I thanked him for his service as a Marine.

He proceeded to set me straight. With a serious voice, he said, “Thank me for my service on Veteran’s Day. But not today. Today we thank those who have died in the service of — and he was very specific — those who have died in the service of Liberty. It’s about the Constitution — Look it up college man”

God bless the United States Marine Corps; they were setting me straight, and clearing my deck of foolishness even before I was officially under their influence.

This brief conversation sent me on a path of study and learning. Not only to gain and understanding of the meaning Memorial Day — but to understand the purpose of America.

Obviously the Constitution says nothing — directly — about the celebration of Memorial Day. But the constitution does mention the oath of office which the Presidents of the nation must take. The President’s Oath says he should to the “best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

This oath is the model oath which every enlisted member and every officer of our nation’s military takes upon entering the service, or moving up the next step in paygrade.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the president of the united states and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the uniform code of military justice. So help me God.”

And this is what my neighbor meant when he told me that Memorial Day was about the Constitution. When a service member enters service he or she makes an oath to support and defend the constitution. They do not take a oath to a person, like the office of the president. They do not take an oath to defend individual members of congress. They take an oath to defend the thinking, and the ideas embodied in a document.

This is why my former neighbor could say Memorial Day is a recognition of those who died in the service of Liberty. For the Constitution, and its predecessor, the Declaration of Independence, and the sibling of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, all speak to the idea of Liberty and freedom.

I am not a betting man, but I would wager that whether it was a soldier dying in a wheat field in Gettysburg, or a pilot over the skies of Hanoi, or a Marine in the volcanic sands of Iwo Jima, or a Navy Seal in the mountains of Afghanistan, or soldier who died in training accident somewhere — I am willing to wager — that none of them had in their minds, at the time of their demise, the grand ideas of the Constitution or Liberty.

When we recognize Memorial Day we recognize the individuals who died in service to our nation. But we are called to think of the Big Picture and the big ideas of America. When we recognize and express appreciation for those who died we are to recognize that the individual deaths fit into a puzzle that gives us a big and beautiful picture of the purpose of America.

It does not take a huge amount of study and probing into the past — whether it is as far back as the ancient Babylonians or yesterday’s news — it does not take too much study to demonstrate that we as human beings have a huge capacity to do bad things, and treat one another very poorly.

It always starts with people who are either very selfish, or think they know better. One group will impose their selfish will upon others. History teaches how very cruel people can be towards other people. This is what the leaders of colonial America saw as they contemplated the power of the King of England. And they said “No longer.” We want to be a free people.

The American Revolution was fought, and the first soldiers of America died in the pursuit of liberty and freedom. The Constitution was the fruit of that first war. The Constitution solidified the ideals of the Declaration of Independence: we would be a nation of ideas, ideals, and the rule of law. Have we got it right all the time? No. But that is the great thing about ideals — we have today to work to get it right. The bar is set very high in America. There is something always to work towards. We cannot be lazy about our ideals.

Ideals, such as rights coming not from Government, but given from God; ideals such as life itself; liberty, and freedom; and the ideal of being able to pursue our own course without the dictates of government — all these ideas were revolutionary at the time. If we stop and think, and carefully consider, these same ideals are still revolutionary today.

In the big picture — it is the defense of these simple, but revolutionary ideals — is why we take time today to recognize the deaths of those who died in service to our nation.

Our founding documents are amazing in many ways. One way they are amazing is that contained in the words are the very seeds of distrust for the government they were establishing. This is why the President’s oath, and this is why the service member’s oath require that we defend the constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic.

The break down, and forgetting of the ideals is always a real danger. This is why each generation must renew its agreement with the Constitution and its ideals. Human nature is forgetful. Human nature is deceitful. The love of our country, and the appreciation of those who have defended its ideals is not equated to a love for the government.

When we read stories of child being sent home because he had a small American flag attached to the handle bars of his bicycle; or we read stories of cup cakes, and cookies being the number one enemy of the children; or when we read of veterans being told that they cannot fly flags in the front of their homes — something is very wrong. (The litany of stories of the encroachments upon freedom does not end.)

The ideals of America are injured. When life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are impeded in the many ways they are today — the foundation of what makes America great is being chipped away bit by bit.

This is especially important on this day. The men and woman who died for the Big ideas of America have value because they died to preserve something great and something grand. When we allow the great and the grand to be diminished, we diminish their sacrifice.

Memorial Day is just not about today. Yes, today, we take time to officially honor their sacrifice. But every day, and in every way we can live out, the Big ideals of America, and defend the ideals of America — in so doing we honor, and we place value and meaning into every service member who has ever died.

In upholding the truths of America we infuse value into the deaths we honor today.

In school we learn many things. We learn things officially in the classroom, and things unofficially outside the classroom. Outside the classroom we do a lot of learning about human nature. We learn how very good friends can be, and we also learn how deceptive and cruel we can be to each other.

The official things we learn are reading, math, science, history, and other life skills. If we, for instance, did not learn math, and science, life would be less comfortable and less convenient without the things which are produced and maintained with science and industry.

But if we do not have history we lose more than convenience and comfort. We lose our nation. We stand today in the greatest nation that has ever existed on this planet. We stand blessed of God because we choose not to place our trust in men. But as a nation we have put our trust in ideas, ideals, and the unbiased rule of law.

As a citizen of this country, as was done to me many years ago, I point you to the Constitution and our founding documents. Read them, study them, slog through them. Discover the beauty of their ideals. Our success as America; our success as Americans will be found in their ideals.

These ideals have been preserved and defended to the point of death by our military. They deserve our highest honor; they deserve our highest praise for the heros they are. To their families we honor you for the gift you have given us.

Thank you for the honor of your attention.
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Vic50
Posted 2012-05-28 6:36 PM (#571699 - in reply to #571667)
Subject: RE: Memorial Day Speech/Remarks


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Thanks for sharing this.
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Vic50
Posted 2012-05-29 3:28 PM (#571753 - in reply to #571699)
Subject: RE: Memorial Day Speech/Remarks


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I guess the lack of any activity on this thread indicates the little attention our society pays to veterans.

Edited by Vic50 2012-05-29 3:29 PM
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Mandar
Posted 2012-05-30 10:32 AM (#571822 - in reply to #571753)
Subject: RE: Memorial Day Speech/Remarks


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Vic50 - 2012-05-29 5:28 PM

I guess the lack of any activity on this thread indicates the little attention our society pays to veterans.


How utterly presumptuous and ridiculous that statement is. To infer how activity in a thread corresponds to how people on this site feel about any subject is insane.

No matter how passionate you feel, dont make generalizations based on "thread activity".....

You should be better than that
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Vic50
Posted 2012-05-30 1:43 PM (#571862 - in reply to #571822)
Subject: RE: Memorial Day Speech/Remarks


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Mandar - 2012-05-30 12:32 PM

Vic50 - 2012-05-29 5:28 PM

I guess the lack of any activity on this thread indicates the little attention our society pays to veterans.


How utterly presumptuous and ridiculous that statement is. To infer how activity in a thread corresponds to how people on this site feel about any subject is insane.

No matter how passionate you feel, dont make generalizations based on "thread activity".....

You should be better than that


After thinking about your comments, I agree.

I backtrack on what I posted. Thanks for your input and setting me straight

However after more thought, your message is right, but kudos to the messinger are withdrawn.

Edited by Vic50 2012-05-30 4:06 PM
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Coachrd
Posted 2012-05-30 7:59 PM (#571918 - in reply to #571862)
Subject: Re: Memorial Day Speech/Remarks



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As a veteran, I don't want anyone's thanks. I was not drafted...I volunteered and don't need to be thanked for a choice I made.

What I want is for the generations of veterans past, present and future to never be forgotten, and never to be villified for their service, and for those who have made the supreme sacrifice, to be remembered more than once a year.

The pen that writes the free speech should be damned grateful to the sword that made it possible.
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Vic50
Posted 2012-05-30 8:20 PM (#571921 - in reply to #571918)
Subject: Re: Memorial Day Speech/Remarks


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Coachrd - 2012-05-30 9:59 PM

As a veteran, I don't want anyone's thanks. I was not drafted...I volunteered and don't need to be thanked for a choice I made.

What I want is for the generations of veterans past, present and future to never be forgotten, and never to be villified for their service, and for those who have made the supreme sacrifice, to be remembered more than once a year.

The pen that writes the free speech should be damned grateful to the sword that made it possible.


Great thoughts - I am also a veteran and fortunately do not need anything

But its tough seeing all these guys and girls coming back from Iraq & Afghanistan, being unemployed and not getting all the medical assistance they deserve.
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GeneralMess
Posted 2012-05-31 4:30 PM (#572033 - in reply to #571918)
Subject: Re: Memorial Day Speech/Remarks



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Coachrd - 2012-05-30 9:59 PM

As a veteran, I don't want anyone's thanks. I was not drafted...I volunteered and don't need to be thanked for a choice I made.

What I want is for the generations of veterans past, present and future to never be forgotten, and never to be villified for their service, and for those who have made the supreme sacrifice, to be remembered more than once a year.

The pen that writes the free speech should be damned grateful to the sword that made it possible.

+1
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Coachrd
Posted 2012-05-31 5:14 PM (#572040 - in reply to #571921)
Subject: Re: Memorial Day Speech/Remarks



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Location: Central NJ & Manhattan
Vic50 - 2012-05-30 10:20 PM

Coachrd - 2012-05-30 9:59 PM

As a veteran, I don't want anyone's thanks. I was not drafted...I volunteered and don't need to be thanked for a choice I made.

What I want is for the generations of veterans past, present and future to never be forgotten, and never to be villified for their service, and for those who have made the supreme sacrifice, to be remembered more than once a year.

The pen that writes the free speech should be damned grateful to the sword that made it possible.


Great thoughts - I am also a veteran and fortunately do not need anything

But its tough seeing all these guys and girls coming back from Iraq & Afghanistan, being unemployed and not getting all the medical assistance they deserve.




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