CAPT Larry D. Cripps is in the Chaplain Corps of the U.S. Navy serving the 4th Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force in New Orleans, LA. I received this as an email at work. I am very sure that it was originally an official message to the 4th Marine Division that was forwarded about the Navy.
Memorial Day: A Day for Honoring Our Heroes
By: CAPT Larry D. Cripps, CHC, U. S. Navy Division Chaplain/Assistant Chief of Staff for Religious Ministry, 4th Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, New Orleans, LA
Daniel Webster once said, "God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it."
While in Washington, DC recently, I decided to get up early before the crowds gathered and visit the Vietnam Memorial. There are four friends and an uncle whose names are inscribed on the Wall. Persons whose memory is surprisingly as fresh to me today as it was some thirty plus years ago. As I stood before each panel listing their names, it occurred to me that their tragic death helped earn for me every hour I live in freedom.
Memorial Day is a day of celebration and sadness. As Americans, we rejoice in our freedom and prosperity that is unmatched by any the world over. But when reading your way through the seemingly endless list of names reverently etched in the black granite wall of the Vietnam Memorial, they take us to a place in our hearts where there are wounds that can never quite heal, and where our grief must be gathered up like garlands in the arms and warmth of family and friends.
The late historian Stephen Ambrose wrote a book in recent years about America's citizen soldiers of World War II. He said, "They knew the difference between right and wrong, and they were unwilling to live in a world where wrong triumphed, and so they fought and they won, and we and all succeeding generations are the eternal beneficiaries of their sacrifice."
The same must be said of all who have fought in every conflict before and since that time-Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. All have been unwilling to sit on the sidelines of history and witness dictators and demagogues crush the voices crying out for freedom.
That is the reason Memorial Day is so important and why people gather in every city and small town across America-to remember the sacrifices of our heroes, to celebrate their patriotism, to mourn their loss, to give thanks to those who in the prime of their youth gave their all and forever so that we and our children might still drink from the fountain of liberty.
And so Memorial Day is a day we remember heroic lives, known and unknown, brave souls lost in battles past and present. Brave souls like my four friends and dear uncle plus thousands more like them who now rest in hallowed ground across this nation and around the world. We remember and we reflect not merely on the memory of their loss, but on the meaning of their lives. They whisper to us in the stillness of our reflection-freedom, opportunity, and prosperity are precious blessings; they were not left to you in perpetuity, they were not gained without great sacrifice by us, and they will not be preserved without purpose and without valor by you. We must never forget their undying expectation of us and our unending obligation to honor them by protecting what was hard earned.
On this day of remembrance, we salute those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We also salute our disable American veterans, not just for their sacrifice in war, but also for their continuing contribution to our nation in peace. And we salute all of our honored veterans for their years of distinguished service, for reminding us every day what we must do to keep our country free.
May God bless you, your families, and all that you do in the service of this great Nation and in the cause of freedom!
God first...Marines and Sailors always
CAPT Larry D. Cripps, CHC, USN
Division Chaplain/AC/S Rel Ministry
4th Marine Division, FMF
New Orleans, LA 70146