Cokato’s Memorial Day Observance

My Husband spoke for God and country at the Cokato  Memorial Day Service. Bob is a Viet Nam veteran and had a twenty year career in the US. Air Force.   His speech had a lot to say to everybody. He did good, real good! Here is a copy of his speech.


Thank you Commander Ackerman, fellow veterans and citizens of these FREE United States.

This is a day of remembrance. A day to pause and reflect on the sacrifice of those who paid the price for the freedom that we enjoy today.

There are three days in the life of a military person that they remember the most – the first day, the middle day and the last day.  Like some of you, my first day started with an appointment at the Armed Forces Induction Center on the North side of downtown Minneapolis. Bright and early, close to a hundred of us waited and waited some more.  There we learned the true meaning of the phrase, “Hurry up and wait.” I think I spent most of the morning holding a folder in one hand, my shirt and trousers in the other, following the lines painted on the floor.

Close to lunchtime, about fifty of us were herded into a room with rows of lines painted on the floor. “Put your toes on the line, ”barked a marine Sergeant, “raise your right hand and repeat after me:”

I, Robert Lea, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Nothing changed, except now we were members of the Armed Forces.  That evening, I was at the reception center of the Air Force boot camp outside of San Antonio Texas. There, everything changed.

Like many in the armed services, my middle day was in a country not my own. It had its beauty – the people were nice – there were things to do and see.  But as GIs, we talked, and we talked often – of only one place we wanted to be – The World.  You see, Mom and Dad lived in the world. Your baby brother, your older sister and all your cousins lived in the world.  Your high school friends and your fishing buddies lived the world. The world had Hollywood, baseball and music sung without accents. In the world, you could drive a Chevy pickup truck a thousand miles down a freeway and go see the Grand Canyon, or Disneyland, or your Aunt and Uncle in Georgia. The world had the church were you went to vacation Bible school, it had that pizza joint were you used to hang out after the game. You could get a Big Mac in the world. Most importantly, it had American women –  your girlfriend, or maybe your wife, or even your daughters.  Everything that you held dear to your heart lived in the world.  When that middle day came, you we half way there – you were over the hump. You began to count the days until you could once again, put your feet in the world.

The last day in the service is the most memorable. If you were stationed stateside, you drove out the main gate, honked your horn obnoxiously and glanced up into the rear-view mirror to see the post fading away.  “All my exes live in Texas”  my Ex-First Sergeant, my ex – Commander, my ex-weekend duty.

My last day started with a flight on a chartered airliner. 300 GIs on a plane overloaded with fuel began to slowly rumble down the runway.  Shaking, shaking, shaking, and at last the nose of the plane rotated skyward. The engines beat the air furiously as the main gear still carried the weight of the plane.  Just when I thought there was no runway left, the wings finally lifted and the ground began to sink away.  Above the roar of the engines, 300 GIs hooped and hollered.  We were bound for the world.

After fourteen or sixteen hours in the air, the plane squatted down on precious American soil. The hooping and hollowing was much louder now.  As soon as we stepped off the airplane, we were civilians.  My friend Sergio got down on his hands knees and kissed the earth of his beloved California.  I watched curiously. If the plane would have landed in Minnesota, I would have kissed the earth as well.

There were other planes that landed on that last day.  Military planes – C-141s and C5s – outfitted for medical evacuation. Some of the GIs walked off the plane on their own power, some hobbled off on crutches.  Some deplaned on wheel chairs and others on stretchers.  They all gave a brief smile through the pain – knowing they were back in the world.  Their last day was further off – through hospital stays and physical therapy treatments.

Other military planes landed on that last day. Their passengers didn’t complain about how long the flight was, or whether their bags got lost – they were coming home to rest – in peace. No more deserts, no more jungles, no more patrols, not more sorties, no more floats, no more tours of duty – just loved ones, and friends, and sad hearts and tears.

Speaking out for those who served and those who died, I thank you.  I thank you for this day of remembrance – I thank you for the parade, the songs and the poems and I thank you for the opportunity to speak before you.

Speaking out for those who are serving now, I ask you to financially support our young men and women, give them the tools, the training, the equipment and the care that they deserve. I ask that you remember them in your prayers.

Speaking out for those who have served and those who have died and who are now serving, I ask that you exercise the freedoms we have defended with our sacrifices and with our lives. Some examples:

Worship your God in your house of worship without fear of reprisal or violence.

Walk the streets of your community without soldiers and tanks poised to watch your movements.

Assemble in public gatherings for a common cause or purpose.

Travel from city to city, live in a city of your choosing, work at a job of your choosing, go to a school of your choosing.  Embrace the American dream and rise above your circumstances.

If your government does good things – compliment them. If your government mismanages affairs – speak out and let your voice be heard – without fear of reprisal.

And the most important of these freedoms that you can exercise is the right to vote – the right to input your choice into the fabric of our culture. There are some now who think the government is better suited to making choices than you are and they are using their personal wealth to promote a radical socialist agenda. It’s your vote that defeats their plan and keeps our freedoms strong. Vote at every opportunity.  Vote to thank a service man or service woman for their sacrifice.

There’s a third verse from the song, America, The Beautiful, that speaks about the passion in the heart of those who gave their lives:

O beautiful, for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self, their country loved
And mercy more than life!

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

Veterans – I salute you!

May 28, 2012 · Sarah · No Comments
Posted in: Contemplations, News

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