There are all kinds of heroes. There are firefighters and police officers, oncology nurses and schoolteachers, and they should all have their own day of recognition, but it is not this day. Today we remember that all that we have, our freedoms, our lives, this wonderful country which was brought forth in sacrifice and renewed in toil and trial we owe to such as who would, if we ask them, spend their lives in its defense. We must honor and remember them. And we must also those they fought beside – by whose side they breathed their last and for whom they fought and died, in surrogate for the countrymen that sent them there. We must never, in a fit of pique or passion, allow those words to escape our lips that, “I support our troops, but…”
There was no “but” in their faith with us. No escape clauses, no qualifications.
A somber occasion then, this Memorial Day, but also a sadly joyous one. For if we must regret the bitterness and pain of sacrifice, we must celebrate the fact that there are those who love us enough, and trust us enough, and what we stand for, that they would lay down their lives for us. We must earn this.
We must earn this by remembering them and honoring their sacrifice.
We must earn this by keeping faith with their brothers and sisters who return from the fight, the broken and the whole.
We must earn this by keeping in our hearts their loved ones, for whom no Memorial Day celebration will ever be required to invoke their memories or sufficient to fill the holes left in their lives.
We must earn this by continuing to build that more perfect union, so that it may more nearly represent the ideals of truth and freedom and justice for which they gave their lives.
We must earn this.