I learned the meaning of Memorial Day from my father, Hugh.
During World War II, my dad was a chief petty officer at the Great Lakes Naval Station outside of Chicago, responsible for training thousands of sailors before they went to the Pacific Theater. Sometimes, my dad accompanied his trainees to the West Coast before they shipped out. He told me later that it broke his heart to know that some of them would never come home.
When my dad died twenty-two years ago, many sailors who had served under him sent me letters and photographs. My favorite photo shows my dad in his uniform smiling broadly. To me, he looked as handsome as any 1940s movie star. It meant a great deal to me that these men took time to honor my dad, the same way my dad taught us to honor those who fell in the line of duty.
Today, I hope we’ll all take a moment to remember the many men and women who gave their lives to protect our country. These brave Americans knew that freedom is earned by each new generation.
My thoughts today are with those families whose sons and daughters sacrificed so much so that all our children can be safe. I hope all of us will honor their memories with our own service to our country, and to each other.