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Archive for May 25th, 2009

Thank you so much to the Veteran’s Commission for organizing this event this year and asking me to attend. We are all grateful for the work you do on behalf of the Veterans of our community year round – from the careful tending of monuments to continuous advocacy on behalf of those that have served our country so well.

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We are all called today to pay tribute to the many men and women that have died as soldiers fighting for the principles that make our country great… liberty, democracy, honor, valor, discipline, and selfless service to others. Frequently we cite the words “fallen comrades” and “ultimate sacrifice”. These are words we speak easily as we gather together to give an hour of our lives to this ceremony. For some of us, our minds may skip lightly over these words and concepts. They roll off our tongues and in listening, our minds may wander to the weather, the decorum, our families, or our busy lives.

We must stop our reverie.

Because what we have come here to do is terribly important. We must remember. We must remember that what we honor are not faceless names. These were young souls with stories to tell and more to live for. These were the faithful husbands, sisters, nephews, fathers, sons, neighbors and friends, most barely out of school, barley kissed, that had gone off from so many different circumstances to meet a common end, all in service to us.

The enormity of our loss is too important to blithely pass by. Our city and country have lost more than we can know. These family members deserve our full attention and obligation. The music of their lives is forever gone from us and we must be deeply and completely moved by grief and loss. What we have lost can never be regained… the glances, the gentle touches, smiles, children, comedy, commerce, creativity, ingenuity, determination and love.

Love, most of all.

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We must understand this loss with the constricted heart of someone receiving first word that their loved one will never return… the agony of a mother that will never hold her child again, a father that will not pass on the keys to the business or walk someone down the isle, a child that will not remember a parent’s laugh by the time they are ten. We must be breathless in our knowing. We must know the full weight of silence.

And yet, we must know gratitude. For God has granted us not only those that have given their lives for our peace and prosperity, but a community that honors these passings, and individuals that continue to dutifully care for the memories of our fallen heros. To these veteran men and women, we owe our continued thanks and support. And to those that proudly wear our uniform and honor our flag around the world today, we owe our praise and deepest appreciation. To those many fine soldiers, we all pray, come back to us safely in God’s hands.

Amen.

Top photo by Mark Perfetti, Bottom photo by Sarah Thane

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