I have read the National Commander's Message for 11 years as a member of The American Legion. This is the first message that really moved me. Maybe having just lost my dad, a Korean combat Veteran that the message rang so true. I had to re-post. Please take the time to read it!
Theimportance of remembrance
National Commander James E Koutz
I remember Lonnie Weisheit like I saw himyesterday. He’d be about my age now, probably with grandchildren. Yet he livesin my memory as the smiling, dark-haired 20-year-old who went through Armybasic training with me at Fort Knox, Ky., and advanced infantry training atFort Ord, Calif. We both went to Vietnam. I came home. Lonnie didn’t.
Every time I’m in Washington, D.C., I go tothe Wall to honor the 58,282 Americans killed in the war and the thousands moreinjured or still missing. On Panel 9W, Row 77, is Lonnie’s name. The letters,etched in granite, are a lasting tribute. But I can’t help but see beyond themto the young corporal who grew up in Lynnville, Ind., 10 miles from myhometown, and was killed by enemy fire at Hua Nghia. He was someone’s son, andhe was my friend.
In one more generation, most of us who knewLonnie and all the others we lost in Vietnam will be gone. Even now, we’reholding fast to the few who have firsthand memories of those who died in WorldWar II and Korea. On a day not too far off, our last living connections tothese wars will be severed, and their dead will forever belong to history.
The responsibility of remembrance falls toall of us – not just The American Legion and other veterans organizations, notjust those serving in uniform, but every man, woman and child who woke up thismorning in the land of the free. It’s a fading priority, though, in this busy,fast-changing world where the meaning of Memorial Day is drowned out bymattress sales and barbecues.
More than ever, our elected leaders mustset the example by making sure our military is able to render proper honors tothe nation’s fallen. Instead, sequestration threatens to encroach on thissacred obligation. At home and around the world, U.S. forces are still fightingon our behalf and protecting us at home, but with far less. That means hardchoices about where the money goes, so we can expect diminished representationin this year’s Memorial Day observances. No flyovers. Limited troop formations.Fewer bands playing the national anthem.
In Europe, where some 101,000 Americansoldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are buried, this is embarrassing. ManyU.S. cemeteries will have only a color guard and one military officer as guestspeaker. The largest of these, the Meuse-Argonne, is the site of the U.S.Army’s deadliest battle, with 26,277 killed and 95,786 wounded. For the firsttime, the Army won’t have a presence at the ceremony there.
Some may see these as unnecessary expenses,but consider that during the Great Depression, the United States built eightfederal monuments on foreign soil commemorating Americans who fought in WorldWar I. Congress paid for Gold Star Mothers to make a pilgrimage to their sons’graves overseas. What message do we send to other nations when giving fullhonor to our war dead is suddenly subject to the budget axe? What does it sayto the men and women serving today?
Remembering the fallen in a mannerbefitting their sacrifice is not a luxury. It is our solemn duty. These aren'tthe kind of budget cuts Americans want.