“From faraway lands, they were returned to cemeteries like this one where broken hearts received their broken bodies. They found peace beneath the white headstones in the land they fought to defend. It is a solemn reminder of the cost of freedom that the number of headstones in a place such as this grows with every new Memorial Day.”
“I am humbled by those who have made the ultimate sacrifice that allow a free civilization to endure and flourish. It only remains for us, the heirs of their legacy, to have the courage and the character to follow their lead and to preserve America as the greatest nation on Earth and the last, best hope for mankind.”
-George W. Bush, Arlington Cemetery, May 26, 2008
No one has paid the price required of Freedom and Liberty more than those we honor today. The heroism and sacrifice by them, put forth in the name of those they did not even know, can only be measured, however, when weighed against what we are willing to pay for that freedom and liberty today.
We should remember that we didn’t start this endeavor alone. As those that long ago sought this liberty decided that it was something worth paying the ultimate sacrifice to bring their fellow citizens, they also received the help of others. Likeminded in the knowledge that man yearns to be free, they took up arms in our behalf. They too, where willing to pay that price to endow this great nation with a legacy of freedom which has paid dividends in perhaps some of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind.
We should also note that, even today, others join in alongside us in insuring that legacy, and bringing the gift of liberty to others in far away lands. Our Armed Forces also have in their very ranks foreigners that have come here to taste the sweetness of what freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness really means. We honor the multitude of those individuals with the gift of citizenship to this great country. A citizenship that is often overlooked, or even criticized by those that hold by birthright such a gift in there own hands.
The overwhelming majority of our soldiers that we honor today gave that ultimate sacrifice on foreign shores. They fought to liberate others, knowing well the meaning of what it was they were doing. They also understood that freedom here must often be paid for there. For the threat of tyranny and oppression in far away lands also affects us here. We may be isolated by great oceans, but no man is an island. There are great acreages of land on distant shores covered by symbols that mark the graves of our great brothers and sisters and sons and daughters that offered themselves up in the name of human sacrifice so others may still taste the sweetness of a freedom and liberty too often taken for granted. Still today our freedom is being challenged, fought, and died for in far away lands.
Also we should remember, that as we see those around us who have come here from far away homes, those that we often feel don’t belong here, that they only come because of something that they often can’t have back home. Something that most each and every one of our forefathers came here for, also. Something worth dieing for. Freedom. Liberty. And the Pursuit of Happiness.