Wasilla - Veterans Wall of Honor Memorial Day Ceremony

Hello. What a great day to be here in Wasilla. It's a privilege to be with you at this special venue for reflection on Memorial Day. I want to thank VFW Post 9365 for inviting me to speak today. I extend to you my gratitude for your service while you were in uniform and for the service you continue to provide your country today. This afternoon I want to briefly share with you my thoughts on the gift of freedom.

On Memorial Day citizens across the country pause and reflect on our nation's fallen heroes. American hearts swell with pride as men and women everywhere stand just a little bit taller when hearing our National Anthem or a bugle playing taps. We remember our brothers and sisters who no longer stand in your ranks, but whose names remain eternally etched on this wall and forever preserved in our hearts. The gift they bestowed on us is the freedom we enjoy today.

As a nation we must remember that with every fallen soldier there is a family left behind and a life story with many chapters left forever unwritten. They answered the call of our nation and gave all they had to give in order to protect our gift of freedom despite repeated challenges from hostile foreign powers throughout our nation's history. Time after time our freedom has prevailed, but it has done so at a very high cost, a cost borne by the fallen and those they prematurely left behind.

We can and we should learn from our fallen sons and daughters. For them service meant accepting the risk that they might not get to enjoy the gift of freedom their service protects. They selflessly chose to serve anyway. For the fallen, honor meant the privilege of wearing a U.S. military uniform and earning the respect that it garners around the world despite the risk that it might make them a target for those who mean us harm. For them selflessness meant answering a call for help from a fellow soldier, without hesitation, even if chances were high that it would be their final act.

These timeless qualities of service, honor, respect, and selflessness form the bedrock of military service in a free society. Often quoted is our Declaration of Independence that proclaims "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." It is those who have answered that call to service, like you the Veterans of Foreign Wars, who ensured that our gift of freedom is not only unalienable, it is also enduring.

All those listed on this Wall of Honor left us the gift of freedom, and for that we remain a strong and thankful nation. Memorial Day is one of America's most important holidays, and it is an honor to share its observance with you here this afternoon. Thank you for your service, and thank you for allowing me to be a part of your ceremony.