Friday, May 4, 2012
2012 Memorial Day Message
On this Memorial Day—one of our nation’s most solemn and revered holidays—we all pause to reflect upon the principles that have made our nation great. We pause to remember the true cost of freedom and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect it. The brave men and women we honor today selflessly gave of themselves to defend a way of life that we all cherish: The rights of all people to determine their own futures, free of oppression and fear.
For the last decade, Americans have lived in an atmosphere of war as our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and friends voluntarily sacrificed the comforts of America to fight for our values and ideals in the Middle East. Last year, Osama Bin Laden was found and killed by a group of U.S. Navy SEALs, a major achievement in the Global War on Terrorism. Continuing to make progress daily, the men and women of the U.S. military endure the dangers of battle to fight to preserve our way of life.
This is why I ask that we all pay our respects to the more than 6,000 brave American military men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.
By laying down their lives in defense of liberty, the world is a safer place. We must remain vigilant against those who wish us harm and join together, as we have done so many times before, to truly build a better future for our posterity.
Memorial Day is one of our nation’s oldest and most significant holidays, born solely of our shared American heritage. Together, we recall the glory and sacrifice of all who have set their personal aspirations aside for the preservation of our society. Whether it is the doughboys of World War I, our Greatest Generation in World War II, our Cold Warriors who served in Korea and Vietnam, the liberators of Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, or countless others who served and sacrificed in smaller American actions around the world, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the men and women who took up arms against the enemies of the United States, laying down their lives to ensure a brighter future for the loved ones they left behind.
Born out of the Civil War and celebrated, this, the third Monday in May, Memorial Day came about as townspeople across the nation decorated gravesites of the fallen with the American flag.
Today, many of us may gather with family and friends to usher in the summer season, but it is important that we never forget why we gather and remember the brave men and women who gave so much and the families and loved ones left behind.
These brave individuals answered the call to serve in our nation’s hour of need, and so keeping with the tradition of Memorial Day, we gather to place flags on the graves of the fallen and to pay silent and public tribute to those who stepped well beyond the lines of fear, doubt, and self-preservation to safeguard the values of the United States of America.
Around the country, memorials bear the names of those who have given of themselves to secure our freedom. We must remember, especially today, that behind each of these names is an American hero who gave his or her life so that we may live in peace; a mother or father who mourned the loss of their child; a spouse; a child, left behind to carry on without them.
AMVETS has long made it a top priority to honor our fallen heroes, whether it is through the establishment and preservation of the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, or the AMVETS Carillons, which ring out at veterans’ cemeteries across our country and around the world as a constant reminder of those who have given all.
As Americans, may we never forget those who fought for our freedom, and may we celebrate the lives of those who have truly made America the land of the free and the home of the brave.
While major milestones, including the demise of Osma Bin Laden, have brought us closer to the end of this war, our country still faces a difficult road ahead. But only we, as Americans, can ensure that we live up to the sacrifices our fallen heroes have made for the ideals we so cherish.
Today, of all days, we must reflect on what it truly means to live in freedom. We must solidify and reaffirm our commitment to our service members and their mission. We owe all of our veterans, past and present, a debt of gratitude for their sacrifices in the defense of liberty and it is our solemn duty to keep the memory alive of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
May God bless our veterans and may God bless America.
(Photo: Official AMVETS photo of National Commander Gary L. Fry)