Congressman Roy's Memorial Day 2021 remarks
On May 31, 2021, I gave remarks at a Memorial Day service held by American Legion Post 313 in Boerne, TX. Below are the remarks as prepared:
What calls a man to stand up, jump out of a Higgins boat into a hail of bullets and mortar fire, then run though the freezing water toward a tall cliff to climb as he watches his brothers fall alongside him? All toward a continent thousands of miles away on the other side of an ocean from his family and home?
The answer is the cause of freedom and the courage to fight for it.
GK Chesterton described courage like this: 'Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.'
In our history:
- 1.3 million war deaths
- 1.5 million wounded
- Over 41 million served in combat theaters over our almost 250 years the majority of whom have passed to the heavens.
- Almost 4 million are buried in national cemeteries, over 400,000 in Arlington
These are the people we remember today.
Today is not a day devoted to our many heroes who walk among us — police officers, firefighters, countless others who put their lives on the line for us every day, or even, respectfully, veterans.
And to those who selfishly celebrate a long weekend for its sake, they should remember the words of President FDR. 'Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.'
Today is about those who gave their last full measure of devotion to a cause greater than themselves.
This is how Lincoln described it: 'that from these honored dead, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.'
This, to put it plainly, is why we are here.
What does it say about the character of a man who would lay down his life for not just another man, as the scripture says, but for generations of future Americans?
Whether they fell on the slope of bunker hill, the beaches of normandy or the mountains of Afghanistan,
Whether they were spurred to service by the pamphlets of Thomas Paine, the patriotic call at the point of Uncle Sam or the heart-rending collapse of the World Trade Center we all witnessed,
Whether they carried a smoothbore musket or an M16,
Whether the flag they fought under had 13 stars or 50,
They died for something far greater than themselves. Their sacrifice, from generation to generation, is bound by the golden thread of American liberty.
They died for the self-evident truths that all men are created equal and are therefore endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights.
More than that, they died for a promise made by America’s founding to the whole world and to a slew of tyrants yet to come, that not only is this what we believe: it is what we will do.
We answer the siren call of tyranny over the mind of man with a cannon. We make it clear that we will live free.
We gather today not to mourn. In the words of General Patton, 'It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.'
The truth is that we cannot hallow them today any more than they have already done by their own actions.
There is only one way that we, the living, can properly thank them for their sacrifice as Americans.
And that is to fight to live free.
God bless them, and God bless a free American people.