Honoring the fallen comrades everyday

May 26, 2014
Lupe Rangel speaks during the Memorial Day service in Ludington.

Lupe Rangel speaks during the Memorial Day service in Ludington.

The following speech was read by Ludington resident  Lupe Rangel  during the Ludington Memorial Day service at Stearns Park this morning. Rangel served 11 years in the Army, mostly in Special Forces. See more of his story here.  More photos of today’s service at www.Facebook.com/MasonCountyPress

President John F. Kennedy said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”

It’s a difficult duty we face this day, paying tribute to those killed in the cause of freedom.

They died – and we live.

They are forever lost to us – yet we enjoy a great gift from them.

Today, we remember and honor the American soldiers, ordinary men and women, who died while in military service.

They left farm and factory, home and classroom, to defend the United States and the freedoms we enjoy.

Memorial Day has different meanings for different people.  The mother, father, the brother, sister.  Family member close or distant.  The best friend of a fallen comrade.  I would like to share with you what memorial day means to me:

Throughout the year, could be day or night, I could be busy at work or at home playing with my two beautiful daughters.  I will remember, my girls ask me more frequently than I would like to admit:  “Daddy, what are you looking at?”  I am there motionless, staring off into oblivion.  These are the moments I leave where I am standing or sitting and go to a far away land — and I remember. I don’t get pick the memory that has consumed me, I feel it has been picked for me.

Forgetting is not a luxury that I am afforded.  I know now, in these brief moments I honor my fallen comrades.  Could they be reaching down and giving me a few more seconds of their friendship.  I think so.

For me, this day is a culmination of all the days leading up to it through the year.  Sometimes the flood of memories is a bit overwhelming.

So when you see someone that has lost a loved one on the field of battle, remember at any moment they may be honoring a fallen soldier.

It is fitting that our nation chooses the last Monday in May as Memorial Day. This day marks the beginning of summer, and what could be a more fitting tribute to men and women who died in service to their country than the day that gives birth to a season filled with warmth and life?

Memorial Day is not to be a day of solemn mourning, but a day of reverent celebration.

Since 1866, when the people of Waterloo, New York dipped their flags to half mast and decorated their village to remember the soldiers who died during the Civil War, our nation has paid tribute to those lives of all service men and women who have fallen in the line of duty.

And since 1948, Arlington National Cemetery has decorated each of its graves with our nation’s flag. Thousands of service men and women plant the flag at the base of the gravestone in order to LIFT UP the lives of these heroes. The graves at Arlington, here in Ludington and Scotville and at countless cemeteries worldwide remind us that freedom is not free. It has a cost. The soldiers resting there lived supporting the lives and the values that create the very backbone of our nation.

These soldiers share a special heritage, a common bond with today’s soldiers. If you would look into their lives, whether privates or generals, you would see they all practiced the same Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. These were ordinary men and women who rose to meet seemingly impossible odds and did extraordinary things.

These brave men and women left the safety of their sovereign soil to defeat tyrants, ensure justice and fulfill the promise of safety and security for our citizens and the global community. Their lives were dedicated not to conflict or death but to compassion and to life.

We remember the families of the missing and the Gold-Star families who lost soldiers to illness, injury and combat who stood strong through uncertainty and whose resilience, dedication and commitment to their soldiers continue to shine as beacons through the darkest hours.

As a Ranger, today I ask you to remember and honor the missing as well. Our nation is committed to the Ranger Warrior Ethos: “ I will never leave a fallen comrade behind” and maintains efforts to locate, identify and repatriate those men and women who have yet to return home.

In this world, terror will not rest, violence will not sleep, evil will not die.

If we honor and remember those who have served, compassion will prevail, justice will triumph, and freedom will reign.

I ask you to remember those who stand shoulder to shoulder against terror and oppression to carry freedom’s torch in foreign lands.

Remember the soldiers, support their families, never forget the missing and rejoice in their lives.

In closing, I would like to extend my hand to the veterans in the crowd here today or if you know of a veteran that may be struggling with the transition of coming home after service to this great nation.

We are here, we are going through the same things you are, you are not alone.  If you need someone to talk to or you just need to surround yourself with people that you can relate to on a different level come find me.  Seek out Michelle Hemmer, she is the one that pulled me out of my shell.  Join the American legion, or VFW  It helps, trust me.

Let this Memorial Day be a beginning, a rebirth, of our commitment to live and to selflessly serve with passion, joy and enthusiasm.

Let us start summer with a triumphant and joyous song, as we celebrate liberty, love and life.


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