Memorial Day Address:
May 31, 2004
want to especially commend your Legion Post in Fairmount for hosting
this Memorial Day program and all the Legion and Veteran's of
Foreign Wars Posts throughout our nation that continue to keep
alive our remembrance of this special day.
we observe our nation's 137th Memorial Day. Memorial Day was first
observed on May 30, 1868 with flowers placed on the graves of
Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
John. H. Logan, Commander and Chief of the Army issued General Orders
No.11, in WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868.
It proclaimed:The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose
of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades
who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion,
and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet
church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony
is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange
such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances
may permit.If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other
hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long
as the light and warmth of life remain to us.
us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains
and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest
flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag
they saved from his honor; let us in this solemn presence renew
our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among
us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and
sailor's widow and orphan.
are gathered here today to honor those veterans who gave their
lives in the service of their country. We do honor and pay homage
to their memories for their sacrifices. Their sacrifices were
on our behalf and they were great and they were many.
Founding Fathers carefully prioritized our freedoms. In the Declaration
of Independence they stated, "We hold these truths to be self
evident, that all men are created equal, that we are endowed by
our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these
are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
are placed in our Declaration in a critically important order.
First life, then liberty, and then the pursuit of happiness. One
cannot infringe upon the liberty or life of another in the pursuit
of happiness just as one cannot take another's life while seeking
ones own liberty. "We are endowed by our Creator" means they are
God given rights. And the most important of the God given rights
is the right to life, yet only in liberty do we find happiness.
precious as life is, your liberty and mine have been purchased
with the blood of patriots. And in the history of this great nation,
over one million brave Americans have given all that they had,
all that they were, in exchange for your freedom and mine.
we reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day countless images come
to mind. Depending on your age it might be a monument of six marines
raising Old Glory atop Mt. Suribachi. Or a mother running a finger
over her son's name on the Vietnam Wall. Or for others a time
of remembrance by visiting the beaches of Normandy which were
stormed by mightiest armada ever assembled 60 years ago this week.
Or for a new generation of Americans the historic dedication of
the long-awaited WWII memorial in Washington D.C Or perhaps, the
images of the soldiers of our National Guard units going off to
stations in Iraq or the glad images of joyous reunions with family
upon their return.
images serve as constant reminders of those who gave their lives
for something greater than themselves. The freedoms we enjoy stem
from their sacrifices. We who benefit for the sacrifices of these
soldiers must always remember the price they paid…and that freedom,
indeed, is not free. Someone has penned this Memorial Day poem:
Memorial Day Poem
watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Service man saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He'd stand out in any crowd.
thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil
How many mothers' tears?
many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.
I heard the sound of Taps one night,
When everything was still,
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin.
Of a brother or a friend.
thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.
America's wars before it, Iraq and Afghanistan are today America's
stand for freedom against all the forces of terrorism, tyranny
and oppression which would destroy the basic rights of all human
beings. Say what you will, believe as you might, when our nation's
military are called to duty and sacrifice they have not shirked
their duty and it is good that we remember them and their families
on this special day.
whom we especially remember and honor each Memorial Day - our
hallowed war dead - now number more than one million. That is
more than one million Americans who have given the last full measure
of devotion while serving our nation.
following words, inscribed at Arlington National Cemetery, are
dedicated to them: "Not for fame or reward, not for place or rank,
not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity, but in simple obedience
to duty as they understood it, these men suffered all, sacrificed
all, dared all-and died."
lives and service of our nation's veterans span every decade,
every year, every day of our country's existence. Surely we owe
It is up to us the living to give meaning to their sacrifice.
To do that, our own dedication to America's spiritual and national
values must be steadfast. We, and our children after us, must
be devoted to those principles for which these heroic citizens
gave their lives. By holding fast to the same principles they
cherished and by teaching our children about our country's history
and the vital role veterans played to make this history possible,
we begin to repay the debt.The price of freedom is constant vigilance.
We do not come here this morning to glory in war. It represents
humanity's greatest failure to find ways to live in peace. Yet,
sometimes there can be no peace while there is compromise with
evil. America is not always right but surely we strive as Americans
to do right - not from selfish or superior designs but from a
sincere hope and belief in the basic dignity of all peoples to
live in peace and harmony, in well-being to the fullest of their
Today, we gain strength from what so many have done-from their
devotion and their patriotism-and are inspired to honor the cause
for which they died. For shining moments in history, they have
held our nation's destiny in their hands -- And did not fail us.
We must not fail them now. For more than 220 years our military
has been a bastion against America's enemies.
that time, our world has changed and our Armed Forces have changed
with it, but the valor, dignity, and courage of the men and women
in uniform remain the same.
too often, we as Americans forget the responsibility we have to
keep the memory of those brave men and women alive. All too often,
we forget how fortunate we are to live in a democracy where there
is no fear of oppression -- as there exists in many parts of the
world today. We are a nation blessed with many privileges, but,
as late Franklin Delano Roosevelt said over sixty years ago, "Those
who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time
that men have died to win them."
us not forget today why we live in this the greatest democracy of
our world. And let us not forget all the men and women throughout
our history who have fought to their dying breath so that we may
finally let us not forget, Memorial Day is also a time for remembering
those who still stand in duty stations in hundreds of places around
the world - on the ramparts of freedom, their future unknown.
Let us keep all of them, and their families, in our prayers. May
God bless the United States of America and the America's true
heroes who we honor today.
you again for your invitation. God bless you!
United Methodist Church