Monday, May 25, 2009

Oxendine: Memorial Day Message

As we pause today to honor our heroes, I was moved by the wisdom of President Reagan:
President Ronald Reagan remarks at the Memorial Day Ceremony at Arlington National
Cemetery in Virginia - May 26, 1986:

"Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes
will ever have to die for us again. It's a day of thanks for the valor of others,
a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children...It's a day
to be with the family and remember.

I know that many veterans of Vietnam will gather today, some of them perhaps by
the wall. And they're still helping each other on. They were quite a group, the
boys of Vietnam -- boys who fought a terrible and vicious war without enough support
from home, boys who were dodging bullets while we debated the efficacy of the battle.

It was often our poor who fought in that war; it was the unpampered boys of the
working class who picked up the rifles and went on the march. They learned not to
rely on us; they learned to rely on each other. And they were special in another
way: They chose to be faithful. They chose to reject the fashionable skepticism
of their time. They chose to believe and answer the call of duty. They had the
wild, wild courage of youth. They seized certainty from the heart of an ambivalent
age; they stood for something.

And we owe them something, those boys. We owe them first a promise: That just as
they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we. And there are
other promises. We must always remember that peace is a fragile thing that needs
constant vigilance. We owe them a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze
and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, knowing that we have adversaries in the world
and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying

That, of course, is the lesson of this century, a lesson learned in the Sudetenland,
in Poland, in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia, in Cambodia. If we really care about peace,
we must stay strong. If we really care about peace, we must, through our strength,
demonstrate our unwillingness to accept an ending of the peace. We must be strong
enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where
it does. That's the lesson of this century and, I think, of this day. And that's
all I wanted to say. The rest of my contribution is to leave this great place to
its peace, a peace it has earned.

Thank all of you, and God bless you, and have a day full of memories."

Today more than ever, we must embrace our heroes from World War II, Korea, Vietnam,
the Persian Gulf, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Today we remember we owe these
heroes and their families everything. Georgia must never fail to honor and serve
her veterans. Ivy and I offer our prayers to those heroes who have served America
and Georgia.

John Oxendine
Governor 2010

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