The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

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)

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