Memorial Day 2013
Patriotism was something I was raised with, like having good manners or respecting my elders. Some of my earliest remembrances include love of country and gratitude to our military forces.
I was five years old when the Japanese bombed our naval base in Pearl Harbor and my formative days were spent in a Carolina seaport town where tankers were sunk by German U-boats a few miles off our coast, so close that sometimes the fires from sinking ships could be seen on the horizon from the beaches.
We had blackouts, air raid drills and rationing and we blacked out the top half of the headlights on our cars so they wouldn't be as visible from the air. The war was close and real and I came to know early in my life that the only two things that stood between us and an enemy that wanted to destroy us and everything we stood for was the grace of Almighty God and the United States military.
That's as true today as it was in 1941. Although it's civilian politicians and leaders at the top who declare war, it's the folks who pull the trigger, drive the tanks and ships and fly the planes, the boots on the ground troops who get the job done and we owe them an unpayable debt of gratitude.
Today, we honor all of our military - but, especially the memories of those who paid the ultimate price so that we could celebrate this day in freedom.
Their remains lie in places like Flanders Field, Arlington National Cemetery, the hulls of ships at the bottom of Pearl Harbor and a thousand family graveyards scattered across the land they died for.
They came from family farms, fishing trawlers, assembly lines, teeming city streets and one horse towns, prairie, mountain, boulevard and country lane, streetwise hot shots and country bumpkins, intellectuals and high school dropouts all answering the call to interrupt their lives and defend our beloved nation.
They trained, they shipped out, they fought and died, in places they'd never even heard of: Bataan, Okinawa, Kasserine Pass, Salerno, Vimy Ridge, Chosen Reservoir, Khe Sanh, Jalalabad and Mosul, thousands of miles from home and loved ones.
On D-Day alone, 5,000 American soldiers died storming the beaches of Normandy straight into the face of German artillery and machine gun fire.
We honor the fallen from World War I, World War II and the ones who lost their lives in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and all the clandestine skirmishes we'll never know about.
To the members of SEAL Team Six who finally rid the world of Osama bin Laden, many who later died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2011.
To the two Navy SEALs who defied stand orders and fought against the terrorists who attacked our diplomatic post in Benghazi, not because they had to, but because there were United States military men and Americans who were in trouble and needed their help.
There are thousands of stories of bravery we'll never know about, unsung deeds of bravery, valor and sacrifice by a special breed of human beings.
So, I join patriotic Americans everywhere in honoring each and every man and woman in uniform and I thank God for your service, your bravery and your devotion to the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And we salute the memory of all our fallen heroes, knowing that we celebrate this day in a free nation because of their sacrifice.
What do you think?
Pray for our troops and the peace of Jerusalem
God Bless America