Recalling ‘selfless service’ and why we mark Memorial Day 

5/26/2010 12:00 AM 

 

                                                                                                   May 26, 2010 
 

This is the time of year that we as a nation pause to recall the “selfless service” of millions of American that marks every Memorial Day. We should heed the advice of General John Logan who wrote in 1868: “Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”   

We have been a nation at war since Sept. 11, 2001.  That fact means honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice and also recognizing all those still serving. They and their families continue to sacrifice for our country and deserve our strong and continuing support.

            This summer, we will be seeing the drawing down of American forces in Iraq to 50,000 soldiers.  We all need to recognize that the sacrifices of all those who served there were not made in vain.

            As I noted in an earlier President’s Corner: “Many of the brave troops who brought peace to Iraq will be doing the same hard work in Afghanistan.”

            As we reflect on Memorial Day, we know that the American service men and service women since World War II have brought peace and prosperity to Germany, Japan and Korea, liberated Kuwait and brought stability to the Balkans.

            At the Association of the United States Army, we know that those who serve their country in uniform are a select group of dedicated men and women.  Today, they are all volunteers. Since the Revolution, they have been the guarantors of our freedom, often in harm’s way in faraway lands.

            The words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes aptly sum up why the nation still celebrates Memorial Day. “So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching. More than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. All that is required of you is that you should go some whither as hard as ever you can. The rest belongs to fate.”

            Through its 60-year history, AUSA has taken as part of its mission to honor the fallen and yesterday’s and today’s wounded warriors. We also recognize the service of generations of soldiers, veterans, retirees and their families.  AUSA remains fully committed to being the Voice for the Soldier and provide Support for the Army.