Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day speech

SPC Mark's speech at the Veteran's Wall in Jacksonville:

Good morning

I am deeply honored to be here this morning.

I am a soldier in the United States Army.

I am a paratrooper in the 82nd airborne.

I am a veteran of two combat tours in Iraq.

I have entered and cleared more than five hundred buildings . . .

more than a 150 mounted and dismounted patrols on the streets of
Baghdad. . .

participated in 15 air assault missions into
some of the worst neighborhoods of
Iraq. . . from

Tikrit to Ramadi to a little know place known as Yusafiah.
I am not a hero.

The 13 brothers we left behind . . .

and the men and women whose names are etched in the wall behind me . . .are heroes.

Today is Memorial Day and we remember and honor their
sacrifice. Memorial Day and Veterans Day seem
especially important in this time of war. But they
are no less important in times of peace. Today is not
just a time to remember the four thousand plus who have paid
the ultimate price in
Iraq and Afghanistan. . .
but a time to remember all of
those patriots from all wars who answered a far off
call in the name of their country and never came home.

After I returned from Iraq, a part of my unit stayed
behind to complete their 15-month tour.

Weeks from redeploying and on his last mission . . . a friend of mine
walked into a house and was killed instantly by an IED.

He was as good a man as I have ever met. . .

devoted family man. . .

never one to let the Army get the best of him.

Just like every name on that wall. . . he had a story.

Each left behind love ones and friends.
Each left behind a void that may never be filled.
Despite this. . . let Memorial Day not be a national day of
mourning but a day of celebration. Those of us left
behind must celebrate our cherished memories. . . and what
little time we were fortunate to have with them. We
must celebrate the fact that we are still free thanks
to their sacrifice. We all must celebrate the fact
that through it all . . . despite public opinion or
political climate . . . this country still has sons and
daughters willing to give their most precious
possession in the name of freedom.
As long as this wall stands. . . As long as there are
people still willing to take a day to remember. . .As
long as there are still people willing to put on the
uniform. . .As long as this country remains a beacon of
freedom . . . our fallen shall live on. . . forever

Thank you.


Infantry Dad said...

I spent this weekend honoring our fallen heroes as a member of our American Legion color gaurd.
We marched in four parades, and listened to an assortment of speaches.
While many were very good, non was equal to SPC Mark's.
I wish I could have been there to shake his hand.
The future of Memorial Day will soon be in the hands of those of Mark's generation.
Reading his speech gives me confidence that history is in good hands.

Airborne dad said...

Kind words, Dad. Thank you and thank you for your work with the color guard.

I confess that I used to be a slacker when it came to Memorial Day and not a very good role model for my kids. I thought flying the flag following the proper protocol and the lighting the grill was enough. But it wasn't.

That's changed during the last five years. After yesterday's very emotional ceremony, Gayle and I will never miss a Memorial Day Observance.

Infantry Dad said...

No need to thank me.
I to looked at Memorial Day as another day off.

This was my first year on the rifle squad with the color gaurd, but it won't be my last.

I'm glad I was wearing sunglasses.

It was an emotional experience..

ABNPOPPA said...

Standing "O" for the young Specialist. Although those of us who have young men and women in the service I would like to pass kudos to the parents who raised these dedicate soldiers. A wonderful speech that hit the heart I firmly believe he couldn't have done it without the right upbringing.


Airborne dad said...

Thanks Poppa,

We had our moments but Mark is truly a self-made man.