Thursday, May 26, 2011


In his Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln spoke of America’s obligation to repay our debt to those who died in service to our country when he said,

“It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The revolutionary patriot, Thomas Paine — with no weapon other than a quill pen—galvanized our country’s cause and inspired a revolution with his words about the import of sacrifice, and citizenship.

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”

In the Civil War’s aftermath, the American orator, Robert Green Ingersoll, eloquently memorialized its more than 600,000 dead. I believe his words speak for all who perished in America’s name. They read:

“They died for liberty – they died for us. They are at rest. They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless . . . Earth may run red with other wars, but they are at peace. In the midst of battles, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.”

George Washington once said:

“By keeping up in Peace a well-regulated and disciplined militia, we shall take … the best method to preserve for a long time to come the happiness, dignity, and Independence of our country.”

More than a century and a half ago, the American statesman, Daniel Webster, penned a fitting tribute to generations of Americans in uniform—past, present, and future. Webster wrote:

“Although no … engraved stone bears record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored.”

William Gladstone, Prime Minister of Great Britain in the 19th Century, once said:

“Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead, and I will measure exactly the sympathies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals.”

President John F. Kennedy once said:

“A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”

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