This speech was delivered on Memorial Day at Wagner, SD on 5/26/2015 For the American Greer Post #11
I wish to thank you for giving me a foreigner the great honor and privilege to be among you and share few thoughts what makes me a proud American
PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN
With your permission, I would like to ask any person who has served or are serving now, in any branch of our armed forces to kindly stand up and be recognized. Please join me as we honor them and thank the Lord for their services to this great nation. (Please be seated).
We the people of the greatest Nation on earth—the USA gather in Wagner, SD on this Memorial Day with heart-felt gratitude and praise to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who in His Divine Wisdom and providence has richly blessed our Land with Peace, Liberty and Justice.
At the same time, we lift our eyes and lips heavenward in thanksgiving to the Lord for the American Soldier—our HERO, who daily puts himself/herself in harm’s way to keep us from every evil and enemy, that may come upon this land of the free and the home of the brave.
With great joy I say to you that I am proud to be an American. Proud because in America I have freedom of religion, of speech, with liberty and justice! Proud to live in this great country because I can still take my Bible in hand and walk to church without having to be afraid of someone cutting my head off. I am proud to be an American because I can speak my mind against the injustice of the government without being afraid of reprisal.
I am proud to be an American because of the American soldier—the Vanguard of freedom, who permits me and my family to sleep at night with peace and joy. I don’t have to be afraid of the enemy because I know my hero the American Soldier will come to my aid and protection.
I am proud to be an American because the American Soldier continues daily to provide the means to live here and keep the wolf from our doors. I am indeed proud to be an American because this nation has afforded me the opportunity to be educated, to serve God’s people and care for my family without fear for my life. I am proud to be an American because of a story like this:
Listen to the voice of Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly as he gave a speech on Veterans Day in St. Louis few years back: I am going to use part of his speech:
…The protected can’t begin to understand the price paid so they and their families can sleep safe and free at night. No, they are not victims, but are warriors, your warriors, and warriors are never victims regardless of how and where they fall. Death, or fear of death, has no power over them. Their paths are paved by sacrifice, sacrifices they gladly make…for you. They prove themselves everyday on the field of battle…for you. They fight in every corner of the globe…for you. They live to fight…for you, and they never rest because there is always another battle to be won in the defense of America.
I will leave you with a story about the kind of people they are…about the quality of the steel in their backs…about the kind of dedication they bring to our country while they serve in uniform and forever after as veterans. Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 “The Walking Dead,” and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour. Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines. The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda…
But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman. The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like: “Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” “You clear?” I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: “Yes Sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, “No kidding sweetheart, we know what we’re doing.” They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, Al Anbar, Iraq. A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way-perhaps 60-70 yards in length-and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped. Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives. Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms. Kelly goes on to say: I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story. The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine. They all said, “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.” The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion. All survived. Many were injured…some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life.” “What he didn’t know until then,” he said, “and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal.” Choking past the emotion he said, “Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did.” “No sane man.” “They saved us all.” - See more at: http://www.moaablogs.org/battleofthebilge/2010/11/honor-and-sacrifice-ltgen-john-f-kelly/#sthash.lDuu6tSm.dpuf
Do you understand why I love this country and the privilege to live here? Because of your sons and daughters who daily are on the front line keeping the wolf at bay so that these kinds of events don’t happen in our land.
Certainly there has been an assault on our way of life. We don’t live like we use too. At the airport we are checked and inconvenienced by the hassles. Now we hear of foreign words that we can’t pronounce like Taliban, Mujahedeen, Alshabab, Al Qaeda and ISIS. These are the enemy that we can’t see. Yet they are out to destroy us and want to bring down our flying Eagle.
In her book “Unbroken,” Laura Hillenbrand speaks of Louie Zamperini’s story as POW in Japan during WWII. I share with you a snippet of these wonderful and moving words that touched my heart and soul and made me cry:
…That afternoon, an American navy man dug through his belongings and pulled out his most secret and precious possession. It was an American flag with a remarkable provenance. In 1941, just before Singapore had fallen to the Japanese, an American missionary woman had given it to a British POW. The POW had been loaded aboard a ship, which had sunk. Two days later, another British POW had rescued the flag from where it lay underwater and skipped it to the American navy man, who had carried it through the entire war, somehow hiding it from the Japanese, until this day. The POWs pulled down the Japanese flag and ran the Stars and Stripes up the pole over Rokuroshi. The men stood before it, hands up in salutes, tears running down their faces. (p 331) PAUSE.
This flag still flies high today. Today, we don’t have to be afraid as citizens of this great nation. We can stand together. We can tell the Administration of the great words of Abraham Lincoln who in his Gettysburg address said: “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”
We don’t have to be afraid to stand up for freedom sake. We don’t have to be afraid from any bully domestic or foreign who attack us. We don’t have to be afraid from anyone, because as free people we tell the world about those who sleep in trenches, who eat cold meals, who are in the heat of the sun, the cold of night, in the mountain, in the sea or in the desert; are there to defend our freedom. We have freedom purchased by the blood of martyrs and the dedication of the Military personnel. Our freedom is not free—it has been paid by the life and shed blood of the American Soldier.
It is the American Soldier who rises up and wears the uniform and stand sentry to make sure that our borders and buildings, our homes and hearts are protected against the evil foe. And who is the American Soldier? The Average age of our solider is 20 ½ years old. He/she is the brightest and the best of our nation. He/she is tall or short. He is a man or a woman. He is your father; mother, brother, sister, cousin, nephew and niece. He/she is a volunteer. They are many but an army of one. Some of them you know and others you don’t. But it is the American Solider the unsung hero who makes it possible for us to live in freedom. You know that there are no freedoms, without those willing to fight for them. And our American Solider have been fighting to keep Freedom alive ever since the inception of this nation. PAUSE.
Another quote from Laura
The plane’s red code light was blinking rapidly. A radioman in the water near Louie read the signals and suddenly cried out: “OH! THE WAR IS OVER!”
In seconds, masses of naked men were stampeding out of the river and up the hill. As the plane turned loops above, the pilot waving, the POWs swarmed into the compound, out of their minds with relief and rapture. Their fear of the guards, of the massacre they had so long awaited, was gone, dispersed by the roar and muscle of the bomber. The prisoners jumped up and down, shouted, and sobbed. Some scrambled onto the camp roofs, waving their arms and singing out they joy to the pilot above. Others piled against the camp fence and sent it crashing over. Someone found matches, and soon, the entire length of the fence was burning. The Japanese shrank back and withdrew.
In the midst of the running, celebrating men, Louie stood on wavering legs, emaciated, sick, and dripping wet. In his tired mind, two words were repeating themselves, over and over. “I’M FREE! I’M FREE! I’M FREE!” PP. 312-313
Yes, we are free—free because someone cared—the American Soldier. We are free to go camping and boating, hunting and fishing and travel without having to be stopped at a check point. That is why Louie Zamperini and millions like him put on the uniform and fight our enemies so freedom can be enjoyed and lived, so that peace and prosperity may flourish and our children live on and tell the next generation of this great nation.
Toby Keith, a country music singer, wrote one of the most moving songs in tribute to these brave volunteers—the men and women of our Armed Forces called, “American Soldier” Here are the lyrics of this song:
I'm just trying to be a father
Raise a daughter and a son
Be a lover to their mother
Everything to everyone
Up and at 'em, bright and early
I'm all business in my suit
Yeah, I'm dressed up for success
From my head down to my boots
I don't do it for the money
There's bills that I can't pay
I don't do it for the glory
I just do it anyway
Providing for our future's my responsibility
Yeah I'm real good under pressure
Being all that I can be
And I can't call in sick on Mondays
When the weekends been too strong
I just work straight through the holidays
And sometimes all night long
You can bet that I stand ready when the wolf growls at the door
Hey, I'm solid, hey I'm steady, hey, I'm true down to the core
And I will always do my duty no matter what the price
I've counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice
Oh, and I don't want to die for you
But if dyin's asked of me
I'll bear that cross with honor
'Cause freedom don't come free
I'm an American soldier, an American
Beside my brothers and my sisters I will proudly take a stand
When Liberty's in jeopardy, I will always do what's right
I'm out here on the front line
Sleep in peace tonight
American soldier, I'm an American soldier. PAUSE.
FREE PEOPLE OF THESE UNITED STATES, we don’t have to be afraid from any administration because we are a government of the people, by the people, for the people. And these people have power when they join hands together and work for the betterment of the community and society. We can give of our service, silver and sacrifice for the greater cause—it is not about us; but about living in this great Land of ours.
And as an American Citizen, I am proud to live here and work with you and thank God for the American Soldier who makes it ALL possible for me and you to live here in freedom. After all freedom is NOT free; but a gift given to us through our heroes—the American Soldier—THE VANGUARD OF FREEDOM!