While we celebrate Memorial Day as the unofficial beginning of summer and enjoy barbecues and good times with family and friends, let us not forget the reason for our celebration, to memorialize those brave heroes who, as President Lincoln reminded us at Gettysburg, “gave the last full measure of devotion” that we at home should remain free.
Every soldier, sailor, Marine, and airman, when they raise their right hand and swear their oath of service, understand that they are writing a blank check, made payable to the people of the United States, for up to and including their very lives. Having sworn that oath, I can attest that it is not taken lightly.
During President Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address, the newly elected president set the tone for his administration, vowing his tremendous love for, devotion to, and confidence in the liberty-loving American people and their famously indomitable spirit.
In his January 20, 1981 address, President Reagan delivered, with the greatest sincerity and emotion, his first and most powerful speech (my opinion) as Commander-in-Chief, during which he recounted the story of Army Private Martin Treptow who enlisted in the Iowa National Guard in 1917 and was assigned to the 168th Infantry Regiment, 84th Brigade, of the famed 42d ”Rainbow” Division. Carrying a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire, Treptow was killed on a French battlefield on July 29, 1918.
On Private Treptow’s body was found his diary, upon which, on the flyleaf, was written under the heading, “My Pledge,” the following words, as recited by President Reagan,
“America must win this war. Therefore, I will work; I will save; I will sacrifice; I will endure; I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”
As excerpted from his first inaugural address (video, below), President Reagan added, “We must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors. As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it. We will not surrender for it, now or ever. We are Americans.”
As a young Army officer, President Reagan was my Commander-in-Chief, of which I was and remain very proud. I loved President Reagan then as I love President Trump today, for his undying patriotism.
Happy Memorial Day, 2019, to you all.