A Memorial Day Message
The following is a Memorial Day message from Texas Land Commissioner and candidate for Lieutenant Governor Jerry Patterson:
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13
On this Memorial Day, I am honored to have the opportunity to speak at the Houston VA Cemetery, the final resting place of my Father and Grandfather. The overwhelming majority of the veterans laid to rest there did not die in wartime, but I honor them all because, simply stated, they answered the call, as millions of Texans have done since 1836.
On every occasion that I've been privileged to speak on Memorial Day, I always read an excerpt from the comments made by a Jewish Chaplain, Lt. Roland B Gittlesohn, USNR, on March 21, 1945. Gittlesohn spoke at the dedication of a temporary cemetery on the island of Iwo Jima for Marine and Navy personnel killed during that battle.
In part, Gittlesohn said:
"Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors generations ago helped in her founding and other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores.
Here lie officers and men, blacks and whites, rich men and poor --- together. Here are Protestants, Catholics and Jews --- together. Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color. Here there are no quotas of how many are allowed. Among these men there is no discrimination.
No prejudices. No hatred.
Theirs is the highest and purest democracy."
Five consecutive generations of my family have served overseas in time of war and I am proud of that shared heritage that I carried through my 24 years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps. Today, my son Travis continues our tradition through his service as a U.S. Marine attack helicopter pilot with multiple overseas tours of duty in the War on Terror. My Dad carried a pocket Gideon Bible in the Pacific theater during WW2. I carried that same Bible in Vietnam. Now, Travis has carried it with him as well - a Bible now carried in three wars.
On this day, I not only honor my father and grandfather, but I also think about fallen comrades. I remember my fellow Texas Aggie, 1Lt Ron Forrester, class of 1969. Ron and I were commissioned together as Marine officers. Ron was lost when an A-6 Intruder failed to return from a mission during the Vietnam war. He was listed as MIA in 1972. I also remember a squadron mate, LtCdr Jim Bob Segars, who died in a peacetime F-14 accident. Jim Bob didn't die during wartime, but he died serving his country nonetheless. These men were not only my friends, they are among my heroes.
This is an important day to all Americans veterans and their loved ones. When I speak, I will encourage my fellow Texans to spend a portion of the day observing a brief, solemn, and prayerful moment.
But I also believe that when we have paid these respects, that it's then quite acceptable to partake in fun, frivolity, family, friends, beer and BBQ... because Ron Forrester and Jim Bob Segars would've wanted it that way.
God bless those who laid down their lives in the defense of liberty and the millions of American veterans we have lost through the years.
God bless their loved ones and families.
And may God bless you, the great state of Texas, and the United States of America.
Texas Land Commissioner
LtCol, USMCR, Ret.
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