Tomorrow, Americans across this great country will join together in remembering those American warriors — throughout our storied history — who gave their lives in defense of freedom. From the blood-soaked beaches of France to the bombed-out back-alleys of Fallujah, the American G.I. has fought — and died — opposing that which is evil and oppressive, and defending all things good and free.
Memorial Day is about one thing: remembering the fallen on the battlefield and passing their collective story to the next generation. These stories, and the men who bear them, are the backbone of this American experiment and must never be forgotten. As John Stuart Mill once said, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse.” The minute, excuse me — the second — we believe our freedoms “inevitable and/or immutable,” we cease to live in history, and have soured the soldier’s sacrifice. He died in the field, so we can enjoy this beautiful day (and weekend). Our freedoms — purchased on the battlefield — are indeed “worthy of war.”
And this day, with America still at war, it is also fitting that we remember the soldiers currently serving in harms way. Because, as any veteran can attest, just one moment, one explosion, or one bullet separates Veterans Day from Memorial Day. Soldiers currently in Iraq and Afghanistan are fighting for our freedoms today, knowing it’s possible they may never see tomorrow. These troops — and their mission — deserve our support each day, and our prayers every night. May God watch over them — and their families; May He give them courage in the face of fear, and righteous-might in the face of evil.
I adapted this brief text from a speech I gave on Memorial Day in 2007 in my hometown of Forest Lake, Minnesota. Wish I could be there today . . .