City Councilor Bob Penta, Veterans’ Committee Chair, delivered the following speech during Medford’s Memorial Day celebration at Oak Grove cemetery:
Good morning to you all …and a special thank you to all the cemetery personnel for preparing the lawns for today.
“God bless America” and “One Nation Under God” thankfully still holds the panache to stir our hearts, minds and souls on this very special day.
Memorial Day was never intended as a celebration to remind us of the ugliness and the ravages of war. … but rather to honor in some solemn observance our men and women, their survivors and our allied comrades who sacrificed their lives to protect our liberty and freedom.
And to those who were left behind … the wives, husbands and partners, the children and parents, brothers, sisters and friends … we, as a nation and within our community of Medford, shall rightfully preserve with this ceremony … the honor of those fallen in service …
… let us also remember with thankfulness the sacrifices and contributions of those who I consider the silent or quiet heroes of any and all wars … for they are the men, women and children who bandage the wounds that need healing, soothe the wounds that do not show, help to cover the scars that never disappear and accept the minds of those who never recover suffering for the rest of their lives from the aftermath(s) of wartime disabilities …
Prior to our wars of today, one thing proved certain, as historian Victor Davis Hanson has been quoted , “Thank God we don’t have to fight anyone like ourselves!!” There is an absolute truth to this comment for while America has always paid dearly for its liberties … our tenacity, ingenuity and resourcefulness has always raised us to the position of being victorious.
However … I personally believe the Vietnam War changed the dynamics of our future world wide involvements.
Our American history of war has always been defined when battle lines were clearly drawn and the enemy was known and exposed.
Since Vietnam, we fight wars today that are against groups of fanatical individuals who hold no value for life …no one country of origin …
… it is against stealth armies of no uniforms, no central headquarters and against murderous, radical extremists who wish to dismantle and eradicate our America because of their hatred for western world cultures and our lifestyles …and because of our military intrusions directly or indirectly … why because of their radical beliefs that regard Americans as infidels.
Today, we are fighting against a new world order who nurture their young from birth to hate and kill Americans.
While attending here to honor our fallen men and women and their survivors, we must constantly ask and remind ourselves what they died for…certainly life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These are the original ideals of “we the people?”…However, we must also ask ourselves if our soldiers of today and tomorrow will continue to pay the ultimate price to protect and defend what appears to be a deterioration of these values.
Will they continue to defend an America increasingly controlled by the rich and powerful banks and corporations at the expense of a dying middle class? …
… Will they continue to defend an America where self-serving Washington politicians and the lobbyists that influence them put their own needs ahead of our society’s and those of the constituents that put them in office? …Will they continue to defend an America where public expressions of God and religious freedom of speech is repressed… Will they continue to defend an America that is losing its status and respect in a globalizing world? …Will they continue to defend an America that considers illegal immigrants and undocumented aliens more important than the legal immigration process… Will they continue to defend an America that can’t resolve its health cost dilemma and increasingly depends on foreign countries for its’ energy supplies. Will they continue to defend an America whose choices have led to an economic crisis that could threaten and diminish its position into a second rate power. Will they continue to defend an America that has yet to proclaim English as its primary language and … has yet to make it a crime for anyone, for any reason to desecrate our American Flag.
With that said …Will the fabric of our country take on a new meaning so different in purpose that the phrase “my country,” right or wrong, endures?
President Andrew Jackson in 1832, some 176 years ago, campaigned that the rich national banks of America and newly emerging corporations would garner more control over our economy and lives in the future which in turn would give them more power and influence than our elected Washington politicians. I personally believe this is happening today … for Congress is having a detrimental influence upon our American core principals of believing, living and loving.
…. and until such un-abated self serving Washington politicians and the lobbyists that influence them, are diminished in their influence on our society, the value, worth and perhaps the commitment of our American soldier will forever be at risk.
Dare we ever get to a position of a revolution again … because “we the people” of today did not listen to what “we the people” of yesterday originally declared and fought for.
Today we really need to think about the following and ask ourselves: Why are we veering off from the principals of “we the people?”
… for “where are all the true, independent leaders?” where are the curious, creative communicators … the writers and the unbiased news media? …where are the people of character, courage, conviction and common sense that challenge and inspire us?
What we need are hard and fast commitments led by a new generation of our young people of today …leaders of tomorrow … our champions of hope … willing and dedicated to engage in good and intelligent debate … utilizing their visions and uncharted talents to embrace honest life and family values that have historically made America great .. but who can also lead in new directions that reinforce rather than diminish these ideals and who can and will embrace peace as its primary task.
When one truly thinks about what we don’t want in our world of tomorrow, I would have to believe that we don’t want any more future world conflicts that could result in needless loss to our sons and daughters. For if we don’t get back to our American principals of “we the people” priorities and values and take a new direction for peace. We run this risk for such loss.
For the might of war doesn’t always mean to be right and to be right doesn’t always mean by might … but, if need be, let war be the final action that will forever symbolize our ultimate defense for our honor and liberty.
As Mahatma Gandhi has said … “We must be the change we want to see in the world.”
… We are too educated a people to let death be the only price to pay to sustain our freedom.
We live in a diverse world. With the plethora of differing opinions, views, and beliefs coming at us daily … and while it may not always be instinctive, the first choice for us must be to communicate respectfully …only through such communication will we ever understand why and what are our world wide positions should be …
We may not be able to personally change what takes place, but we can certainly influence change through effective communication.
And posturing to be politically correct is such a sad way to carry forward the real values of maintaining life, liberty and peace with the respect for each other in thoughts, opinions, debates, votes and actions.
We gather and pay homage this day, in the closest tie which is possible between our men and women soldiers … a tie which suffering has made indissoluble … for better, for worse.
And even if those who come after us forget all that we hold dear, and the future teaches and kindles our children in ways as yet unrevealed, it is enough for us that this day forever stay dear and sacred to our hearts … that is why it is so pleasing to see our children here this morning.
For it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt on June 6, 1944, on D-Day who stated “Our sons and our daughters, pride of our nation, … they fight for the tolerance and good will among all God’s people,” …a never to be forgotten belief and reason that symbolizes why we are here today.
I thank God for giving us this beautiful morning for it does not matter if there is sunshine or rain this day …
… for we are here to pay our respect, express public esteem and say thank you to all the men and women of our armed forces and especially to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
I gratefully thank our defenders of freedom who have afforded me this privilege to express my freedom of speech this day.
May the spirit for freedom live forever throughout our great land and may the spirit of Old Glory sail and fly majestically … as we rightfully and thankfully say “God Bless our America.”
In life we all have our heroes and for me it was my wife Linda, a woman of undying inspiration, determination and belief … she has given me the strength to move on and for helping me now deliver what I personally believe the most important part of today’s message … and that is … to believe and pray for God to always protect and bless “we the people” of America and Medford … for all we have to do is ask.
Thank you and enjoy your day folks !