Web Series: No. 5 – Keynote Memorial Day Speech

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the St. Charles County-Wide Veterans Memorial Service Program at St. Charles Memorial Gardens today.

A wonderful picnic lunch and activities for the families were provided by Baue Funeral Home for all attendees.

Numerous participants were: VFW Veterans groups, American Legions, Ladies Auxiliary, Korean War Vets Assoc., Marine Corps League, Legion Riders Chapter, Vietnam Veterans, the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, Bag Piper James Hopkins playing "Amazing Grace", singer Kathy Lawton Brown who sang "Before You Go", the "National Anthem", and "God Bless America", Boy Scout Troop 506, Cub Scout Packs 980 and 969 lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and the After Hours Community Band provided wonderful music. A Rifle Salute and Taps ended this moving service.

If interested, please see my speech below. God Bless America!!

Memorial Day Speech

May 28, 2019

From our humble beginnings as a Nation to our current status as a superpower, the men and women of this great country have never hesitated to answer the call to defend our Nation against our enemies, giving their all to preserve the freedoms we hold dear. But, it wasn’t until after our Civil War that we began formally recognizing our fallen. Since its inception in 1868, Memorial Day has become one of our most important and treasured traditions.

The memory of fallen heroes has been with us a long time, as old as the hills, because, as long as the hills have stood, mankind has gone off to battle and soldiers have fallen in the fight.

For the first time, in 1868, a national memorial occasion was observed. It began with the Grand Army of the Republic, the organization of veterans of the Union Army, remembering the Civil War dead by placing flowers on their graves. General James A. Garfield spoke at this first Memorial Day observance on the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery. General Garfield said: “We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country, they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and virtue.”

What began as the memorial to the fallen heroes of one war, is now our day to honor the memory of the casualties of all our wars, their families, and our veterans who have passed on.

Our emphasis today is on the nature of the supreme sacrifice so many made in the service of our country. And the function of a Memorial Day speaker now must be not merely to remind his audience of past sacrifices. Rather, the occasion is to be used to also appreciate what we have in times of peace and how willing our predecessors were to risk their lives to protect a heritage of Liberty and freedom. Let’s also use this time to teach our children the values that make this nation great, to respect the Flag, and ”As Ronald Reagan emphasized, that America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere."[1]

Abraham Lincoln said: “The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart, should swell into a mighty chorus of remembrance, gratitude and rededication on this solemn occasion.”

Let’s honor those who’ve paved the way for our freedoms and for those who continue to serve.

While Memorial Day is known as a time of remembrance, it is also a time for us to reaffirm our own commitment of selfless service. By doing so, we not only honor the memory of those before us, but also vow to carry on the legacy of excellence in the world’s best military force. “Service Before Self.” is our valued legacy.

It is our responsibility as citizens to remember the Nation’s brave fallen men and women - whether they died on foreign lands in the heat of battle, or after a lifetime in the uniform. Never forget the men and women who know all too much the cost of our freedom, for their service to this country is the greatest gift of all.

What does the “Buddy” Poppy symbolize? “Remembrance.” A poem titled “In Flanders Fields” was published in 1917 by Col. John McCrae.

This poem honored those who lost their lives on Flanders Fields. Flanders Fields was a major battlefield in Northern Belgium during WWI. After the battle, only this little red poppy broke through to the surface of this barren ground, and has become a symbol to the fallen.

The Poem: “In Flanders Fields” - by John McCrae

“In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row; That mark our place; and, in the sky, The Larks, still bravely singing, fly. Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago, we lived, felt dawn, saw sunselt glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie, In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe; To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who dies, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders Fields.”

I will end now by reading verse 4 of the hymn …Eternal Father, Strong To Save”

“O Trinity of love and pow’r,

Our people shield in dangers hour;

From rock and tempest, fire and foe,

Protect them where-so-ever they go;

Thus ever more shall rise to Thee;

Glad praise from air and land and sea”

Again, thank you for inviting me to be a part of this ceremony. God bless those deployed today in harm’s way, providing us the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful day in our great nation. God bless her through these challenging times and God bless each of you….Thank you and God Bless America!

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