As proud servicemen, it is our duty to make this world as good and as safe a place we can.
We are blessed in this country, and I believe that the rest of the world would be blessed if they lived with the same sort of freedom we have in America where some individuals choose to give up a share of their individual liberty in order that the rest might be protected.
Those of us who volunteer for military service do so because we love our country. Those who serve in our Armed Services are asked to demonstrate courage through unyielding devotion to duty. We do this in many ways. Some enjoy the excitement of doing a difficult and often dangerous job well. Some admire the virtues shown by heroes of earlier times.
Those who serve and sacrifice for our country set an example for us all about motivation and courage. I find inspiration in those men and women who served and died for our country.
History sometimes breaks our hearts. We remember the Holocaust, our own American Revolution, Civil War, the Battle of the Alamo, WW I and II, Korea, Vietnam, the current conflicts in the Middle East and the war against terrorism. History can hurt. And after serving honorably for 30 years in the Navy, my moist eyes speak my deep concern. But the hard truths can’t be ignored. Those who serve in our military love America because of its role in preserving the world’s greatest democracy and our numerous God-given freedoms.
We are a nation of immigrants, a nation of free enterprise, a unique culture made of other cultures. The American dream is described in terms of freedom-to pursue happiness, freedoms that for generations have attracted peoples from other lands such as the freedom to worship or to express ourselves free from governmental interference.
Our soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, coastguard men and national guards pay taxes and vote, but they also take a solemn oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic. Our military is under civilian control, while our elected officials debate the nature of our nation’s foreign policy, it is our job to loyally support what we are asked to do, even if it calls for us to make the ultimate sacrifice.
We must remember that our 55 founding fathers-those who framed the U. S. Constitution and the Declarations of Independence-were human, not demigods. They came here to escape religious persecution and then defended those ideals as part of the revolution. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution aren’t just pieces of paper.
They contain written words- beautiful words, hot words, words with bite. Yet these documents became the script for a society based on liberty and freedom. They contained words that would spell either life or death for the new nation.
This foundation launched a revolution which produced a national spirit that gave reality to hopes and dreams for freedom, christened with the blood of many who served in our military. This is the America in which I believe, and for which we fought for around the world, a country which includes many servicemen still here in Martinez. We served and fought in battles scattered across the Persian Gulf, WW II, Korea, Okinawa, Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Bosnia, Cuba, and Lebanon.
This is the America my uncle fought and died for during the Bataan Death March in the Philippines-forced at gunpoint to march 85 miles without food and drink and later shot and bayoneted. The overwhelming majority of American servicemen believe in the Ten Commandments, handed down to Moses on stone tablets by God on Mount Sinai some 4,100 years ago.
These brave Americans are heroes, Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian. They are Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and Atheists. They come from the fifty states of the Union, Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Today, they fight terrorism, and try to bring justice and peace to a troubled world.
We honor them because of their unselfish devotion… they are primitive patriots, loyal to our government and the Constitution-defenders of our democratic principles and way of life. They spend years on deployment, work and toil without rest. They suffer the pain of loneliness, but with perseverance and a sense of humor they survive and continue to serve with distinction and honor.
Thinking back 156 years ago in our history, President Lincoln’s performance during the Civil War was the touchstone that pulled America through one of the greatest challenges, perhaps one of the toughest periods in our nation’s history. We are here today, because Lincoln did what had to be done. FDR’s strong leadership and optimism was our rallying point for victory in WW II. President Truman gave the order to drop the atomic bombs in August 1945 to save at least a million of American soldiers’ lives if we had to invade Japan-and countless Japanese civilians who would have been killed as a result of a bloody invasion.
President Kennedy ordered the blockade of Cuba in 1962 during the “Missile Crisis” in order to avoid World War Ill. President Teddy Roosevelt, carried a big stick, spoke softly and ordered the 16 American Battleships of the “Great White Fleet” to sail around the globe in 1903 to show the American flag and to convince all foreign powers that America had emerged as a major sea power and would deter any aggression upon the United States. President Reagan kept our military so strong that any potential adversaries did not dare to provoke us. The “Monroe Doctrine” kept us the Master of our own house ” here in the Western hemisphere.
Those who never came back gave the ultimate sacrifice. The price that must be paid for a chance to wear the military uniform is as steep as it’s always been. Our freedom has cost so many lives. Today, we celebrate their lives, their service to humanity as peacemakers. They were the fathers we never knew, the uncles we never met, the friends who never returned, they are the heroes we can never repay.
We are the children of their sacrifices. We are the sons and daughters they saved. Some of these heroes are still here worshiping in our local churches. When they were young, they made this world safe for democracy. They are truly a blessing in our life and we owe a great debt of gratitude to all of them. We honor them for their service and sacrifices in war and in peace.
God Bless America !
– Lt. C.C. Salonga, USN (Ret.)