Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines stationed at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan remembered Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our nation, during a Memorial Day weekend ceremony.
Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76, noted that for the past 138 years, our nation has paused at this time of year remember those who have died in our nation's service:
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Wayne A. White plays taps during a Memorial Day ceremony at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, May 28, 2006. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Robert R. Ramon.
"What does this day mean to us as we stand here at Bagram, Afghanistan, fighting in the global war on terror?" Freakley asked the hundreds of servicemembers in attendance.
It is important, he said, for military members to pause and remember those who went before. "We stand on the shoulders of giants," he added. "From those who fought in the earliest days in the American military, to those who fell in Vietnam, in operations in the 90s in Panama, Grenada and Operation Desert Storm, to those who have fallen in the global war on terrorism, beginning with those members of our nation who fought right here in the opening days of Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as those who have recently fallen on our watch as CJTF 76."
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"Simply put, their lives meant sacrifice and dedication to something greater than themselves -- their nation, their fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, and dedication to a cause -- freedom," Freakley said.
"Not only freedom for the American people, but freedom for over 55 million Iraqis and Afghans who have had oppression and tyranny lifted from their shoulders and given the opportunity to form their nations to stand tall and live life in freedom and peace," he added.
Freakley said it is because of those who made the ultimate sacrifice that Americans back home are able to live tranquil lives.
"Those who have died have also guaranteed our own freedoms in the United States of America," he said. "Thankfully, since September the 11th, 2001, America has not been attacked. Some people could say, 'Well, we're just lucky.' I don't believe in that.
"I believe that we have taken the fight to the enemy worldwide, focused in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have prevented the enemy from returning to our shores, thereby ensuring our businessmen and women can go to work in buildings without fear that an airplane will crash into it; our children can go to school and not be concerned about being killed; our citizens can go to baseball games, cookouts, and picnics and have fun this Memorial Day weekend because it has been delivered to them by those who fell and those who stand in the ranks today."
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"Today we dedicate ourselves, as we did before we deployed, to continuing the fight in the global war on terror and guaranteeing the American people freedom as well as the people in Afghanistan and Iraq," he said. "Remember those who gave their all to our nation. They did not die in vain, for they have given us a better world, a better Afghanistan, a better Iraq, a better United States of America."
Please take the time today to remember all those that sacrificed so that we are able to live in freedom. Or do as Ralph Kinney Bennett suggests in his phenomenal "Go and find a soldier's grave." Go and find a soldier's grave and think about what it means; what it really means to give your life, in its prime, for your country. Make this Memorial Day truly memorable.
The RNC has prepared this video honoring the patriots who defended and currently defend America. The video runs three minutes and I found it well worth the time.
The image above is from the National Cemetery in the Presidio in San Francisco. The image to the left is an arial view of the World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, which is situated on a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel in Colleville-sur Mer, France.
President Abraham Lincoln found the most appropriate words:
The Gettysburg Address
November 19, 1863
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. 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, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.