Since May of 1868, Americans have commemorated the sacrifices of the heroes who have served and died on the fields of battle on Memorial Day.
In a speech at Arlington National Cemetery in 1986, President Ronald Reagan reminded us of the reason for Memorial Day when he said, “Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It's a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It's a day to be with the family and remember.”
While every Memorial Day should be a time to remember America’s fallen heroes, this year has even more significance for our nation as we take a moment to remember the more than 7,000 heroes who have given the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields fighting the Global War on Terror, the longest war America has ever fought, a war which was brought to our shores on September 11, 2001.
To borrow from, and to paraphrase the words of General George S. Patton, Jr., “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men [and women] who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men [and women] lived.” It is because of the heroes of all of America’s wars that we can loudly proclaim that America truly is the land of the free, because of the brave.
For me, Memorial Day has always had a special meaning. It is a day when I take time to remember not only the American heroes who have passed through my life, but the thousands of others who have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep America free. If you have a minute this Memorial Day, take a moment to listen to the words of Trace Adkins’ song entitled Arlington. Take the time to reflect on all of the heroes who have died to preserve our freedom. And take just a moment to quietly reflect on the words of the song and think about the meaning of the lyrics when he wrote,
We’re thankful for those thankful
For the things we’ve done
We can rest in peace
’Cause we are the chosen ones
We made it to Arlington
Yeah, dust to dust
Don’t cry for us
We made it to Arlington
Although it would be impossible to name each of the heroes of the Global War on Terror, or even share just a glimpse of their stories, this Memorial Day we should pledge to finish the dream which began just a few years ago when U.S. Army veteran
In response to what began as an idea for a memorial from a small group of like-minded veterans, last year Congress unanimously passed the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Act which could soon make the dream of a memorial a reality and would provide a place where every American could visit and pay tribute to those American heroes who have fought to preserve our freedom in the face of the global war on terror. came up with the idea of a memorial when he bumped into a group of veteran motorcyclists on their way to D.C. for the annual Rolling Thunder ride in 2014.
So, as I often do, I would invite each of you to join me on my imaginary mountaintop, only this time instead of asking you to shout loudly with me, I would ask each of you to take a moment to offer a silent prayer of thanks in honor of all of America’s heroes who have served and died to make America the land of the free, because of the brave.
Oh, and by the way, before I forget, I would also ask every grateful American to honor America’s fallen heroes and visit the website for the Global War on Terror Memorial foundation; reach deep into your wallet; and send a generous donation which will make the Global War on Terror Memorial a reality, sooner, rather than later. .
Mark Wohlander, a former FBI agent, federal prosecutor, and a proud veteran of the United States Army from 1971 to 1979, practices law in Lexington.
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