I was honored to speak at the Sutersville Memorial Day Ceremony. Below is an excerpt from that program.
Today, Americans just like us are gathering in their hometowns – just like Sutersville – around the country to watch parades and remember, as a community, those who fought and died serving our country. When I was growing up, we always went to the Memorial Day parade in Latrobe. In those days, it was celebrated on May 30, which was the birthday of my Mom’s younger brother. My uncle Jimmy, a Marine, died when I was six. I remember my mom’s stories of watching the Latrobe Parade with her father, convinced that it was a celebration for her younger brother. I remember my Uncle Jimmy today. Semper Fi!
I also believe we should honor our heroes throughout the year, not just one day in May. When I worked on Capitol Hill, my Sunday break often was a walk to the National Mall where I spent the afternoon walking from the World War II Memorial, to the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, and then the Korean War Veterans’ Memorial. At each one, I read the stories of the battles and the names of men and women to whom we owe so much. This is always the place I bring visitors to DC. On one visit, I was joined by a friend with whom I had worked at Ford. He and several other work colleagues were Vietnam Vets. Bill was an Army gunner. My other work colleagues led groups of Marines through the fields of Viet Nam and came home with Purple Hearts. From them, I learned about the experiences, the suffering, the loss. On that visit, Bill pointed out names with whom he had served in Vietnam and explained the roles of the various soldiers portrayed in the Korean War Memorial. I remember them today and the brothers they lost when I was 10-15 years old and a student in Latrobe.
Every single person who fights for our country deserves to know that their government will stand behind them. While the methods of warfare have changed, I know that today’s young service men and women have the same sense of duty and honor as the heroes in Arlington and those whose names are inscribed in the monument here in Sutersville and those around the country. I am thankful for each and every one of them. I value the sacrifice they and their families make to keep our country strong. I also would like to recognize Mr. Alvin Ghion, father of Fire Chief Mark Ghion. Mr. Alvin Ghion, soon to turn 95 is the last surviving veteran of World War II honored on the Sutersville plaque.
This Memorial Day, join me in remembering those who gave their lives for the freedoms we hold dear.