SPC Mark's speech at the Veteran's Wall in Jacksonville:
I am deeply honored to be here this morning.
I am a soldier in the
I am a paratrooper in the 82nd airborne.
I am a veteran of two combat tours in
I have entered and cleared more than five hundred buildings . . .
more than a 150 mounted and dismounted patrols on the streets of
participated in 15 air assault missions into
some of the worst neighborhoods of
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
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
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.