Soldiers' Angel Amber was kind enough to let me share her remarks from a Memorial Day tribute she was invited to take part in. I have added links to information on some of the individual Heroes she has mentioned.Memorial Day Remarks: Prepared for 30 May, 2005
Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Many of us will have the day off of work,will travel, relax with family and friends. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers. After World War I, observances also began to honor those who had died in all of America's wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.
Time in some ways has swallowed up this history, but it is important that we remember it. As many of you may know, this church has been a supporter of the Soldiers' Angels Foundation in our efforts to provide care, comfort, and support to our men and women in uniform. Soldiers' Angels has had the opportunity to care for many men and women deployed in support of the War on Terror. Greek philosopher Herodotus said that "In peace, sons bury their fathers; in war fathers bury their sons." The men and women we support show great courage in dangerous jobs, yet some of them do not make it home. We have come to know heroes, and we have lost them, as people have throughout our nation's history. Ideally, I could speak about the fallen warriors of all our wars, tell you their names, their families. However, time doesn't allow for this. I offer this tribute to our fallen soldiers, may the names and pictures represent all those who have fallen before and after. I wish I could tell you all of their stories, let you get to know them as I have through the operations of Soldiers' Angels. However, I can only share a few.
I can tell you about Glenn Watkins
and how he volunteered to stay in Iraq after his year was complete to train the unit replacing his. At his memorial service, his commander said: "He was a quiet man, but we remember him for his humor. He was Jewish but he loved Christian rock and roll. He was a soldier, but he was no warmonger. He was lowly in rank, but his leadership, bearing, and sacrifice serve as the perfect model for every soldier here gathered today. He requited his duties as a man of God, a father, a friend, a leader, a soldier with shining honor. He accomplished his purpose. We loved him. We will always. Always honor the life he shared with us and try to emulate it. Because yes, we miss him, because he made us better. Like a beacon. We will use his life to help us navigate through our own.:
I can tell you about David Mahlenbrock
, who only asked that his buddies play "American Soldier" by Toby Keith at his memorial, should he not make it home. Toby Keith played him that song at his funeral, and you will hear it today.
I can tell you about the unusual maturity seen in Gunnar Becker
. How he understood his mission, and defended his decision to serve unwaveringly. He was killed two weeks before he was to return home. Gunnar, you touched my heart, may you rest in peace.
I can tell you about Jason Dunham
who is remembered for his smile and for always standing up for his friends. Who promised his fellow Marine "I want to make sure everyone makes it home alive. I want to be sure yougo home to your wife alive," only days before his death. When a grenade was thrown in their battalion ranks, Jason covered it with his body. He lost his life, but kept his promise.
I can tell you about Sam Huff
who was an unlikely soldier to her classmates. She loved music and was a drum major in the band. She loved two things with a passion, dancing and her fiancé Nick. Indeed, Sam was not your typical soldier. At 17 she told her parent's she had decided what she wanted to do in life, she was going to be a military police woman. They had to sign for her to enter early, because she did not want to wait. A fellow soldier shared this conversation. Sam said, "You know what Lathers? I could have been the next Gap girl. I had a modeling contract and everything. But no, look at me I'm in this country, wearing desert camo, carrying around a weapon wherever I go and fighting for my country." Always smiled and laughed after she said it. Then she would say, "I wouldn't change where I'm at for anything." Her Sgt. knew another side of Sam. He said, "Her thirst for knowledge sometimes overwhelmed me as a leader, leaving me scrambling to answer question after question," She was also a beautiful young lady, the kind that would turn heads in the mall. "You would be hard pressed to find a soldier that could learn and retain knowledge as fast as she did," James said. "If I wrote down every positive quality I'd want in a soldier, Huff would still be better. She was the kind of soldier that made being a leader in the Army fun." Sam Huff was killed three weeks ago, she was 18. The men and women you are about to see are fallen heroes. They represent all that have gone before. It is important that we enjoy ourtime off, our freedom this weekend, but it is also important that we realize its price. Memorial Day is to recognize Glenn, Jason, David, Gunnar, Sam, and all their brothers and sisters in arms that have fallen throughout history. This tribute is to honor these men and women. As you watch it, please look at the pictures, the names. Get to know these heroes, as best you can. They are more than statistics on CNN. Remember their families, remember their courage. Remember their faces, their friends still in harm's way that must go on without them, but most of all, remember their sacrifice.
They may have fallen, but they are not forgotten.Thank you, Amber.
Labels: David Mahlenbrock, Fallen Heroes, Glenn Watkins, Gunnar Becker, Honoring Heroes, Jason Dunham, Memorial Day, Sam Huff, Soldiers' Angels