dilemma. You see, I received several "canned" speeches to choose from
for today's message. They are prepared by professional speechwriters,
and all are superior speeches, although they normally include some
hidden agenda like the need for a stronger military, or the success
of our latest military intervention. However, I felt that these
topics miss the true meaning of Memorial Day, and so I chose not to
use any of them, and wrote my own speech instead. I ask your
forgiveness if my comments are not as polished as you may be
accustomed to, but they are more sincere.
Most of us are familiar with the adage, "Old soldiers never die,
they just fade away." That saying is grossly untrue on two counts,
and that is what I wish to comment upon for the next few minutes.
First of all, old soldiers do die, often in combat; and so do
young soldiers, and sailors, and Marines, and airmen. Service
members, young and old, men and women, from every branch of military
service, die defending our country and our way of life. They fight in
popular and unpopular wars, in countries all over the world. They
carry the American flag, and the ideals and values for which it
stands, to every corner of the world.
They don't go for glory, or honor, or fame. They go because their
duly elected officials, who represent the American people, including
you and me, ask them to place themselves in harm's way. They
sacrifice family, friends, and often their lives, to serve their
country. The New Testament tells us that there is no greater love
than to give your life for another. Our fallen comrades have
demonstrated that love, and that is what Memorial Day is all about.
The second misconception is that old soldiers just "fade away."
Our fallen comrades didn't fade away. In most cases, they were simply
forgotten. One reason for this is that the true meaning of Memorial
Day has been lost by the majority of the American people. To most
Americans, Memorial Day is simply one of the federal holidays that
bracket the summer season. Memorial Day for them marks the beginning
of summer, the opening of the community swimming pool, the start of a