Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit-de-corps of my Ranger Regiment.
That was the first stanza of the Ranger creed. It was my first unit. I was absolutely terrified of my entire platoon when I first arrived at 3rd battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. These were the men who first taught me military integrity, honor, teamwork, hard work, and a host of other things. I had the privilege of serving underneath some of the finest leadership I ever served under. I am forever grateful to the men who taught me, and learned with me. They, along with other units, have recently served our nation in Kuwait, Somalia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The sacrificed of these cannot be numbered. We just give them a day.
Vietnam...the war no one wanted.
The countless dead, the Prisoners of War still missing, an enemy who does fight by the then-conventional rules of warfare, and those who returned home to a country ungrateful of their sacrifice: We just give them a day.
America there 1000's of soldiers onto the beach at Normandy, as Allied powers fought to turn the tide against a power-mad genocidal maniac. They're is a great generation. We just give them a day.
What is Memorial Day? It is a holiday, and civil holy, set aside by this nation to recognize the ultimate sacrifice of those given in the defense of these almost mystical words: Liberty, Equality, and Justice. Never are those words more clear, those ideals more tangible, than when facing an enemy who threatens their very existence. Never will you find a people, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-class, multi-gendered, joined together in unity than when in defense of these ideals.
On any given day in this country, those ideals are taken for granted. On any given day those 3 ideals are assumed to be universal, and inherent. On any given day those 3 are ignored as if they will never go away, as if they are as stable as gravity, and solid as Gibraltar.
Most don't even acknowledge the sacrifice of those who made freedom possible. Most ignore those who have given all to make liberty sure. Most walk past those who ensure justice prevails.
Except today. We stop to remember, if only for a second, that our right to vote, our right to pursue happiness, our right to choose between 30 cereals, 50 pairs of shoes, 10 different suits, was made possible by men and women who chose to give up those rights, pick up their weapon, and stand guard on the wall.
We will never be able to repay them. We may never know who all of "them" are. Our world moves fast, and heroes are forgotten as soon as they are made. But today, we can stop and remember., and we can live our lives in a way befitting the sacrifices made. We can live remembering. Remember that Freedom isn't free, it cost lives. Remember that Equality and Fraternity do not come easy, they cost blood. Remember that Justice is blind, but her defenders have night vision.