May

25

 My favorite holiday of the year is Memorial Day. This is the day when I remember the freedom that I have and how it was won. It is the day when I give deep and sincere thanks to those who fought .. .not for my freedom (I would never ask anyone to do that), but for their freedom, and for the freedom of their children.

I remember that the freedom I have and enjoy is a by-product of other people's willingness to fight for what they believed in. Over the course of this weekend, we'll hear a lot about the sacrifices of these men and women, but I don't think about what they did as a sacrifice — I believe that what they did was simply a matter of choosing their highest values.

I doubt most sane people want to die, but there are those that choose to "walk into the valley of the shadow of death" so that they may have that which they value most; freedom and liberty.

I was thinking about baseball today also. I remember fondly my carefree years of youth, playing baseball and wishing I could some day play in the big leagues, and I remember having players that I idolized. One in particular comes to mind, who was introduced to me by my father, and whose career had ended two years before I was born. He was Stan "The Man" Musial. What a player! What a career! What a person!

I was also thinking about all those who are about to enter what used to be an elite club; the 500 homerun club. I began to wonder if Stan Musial feels he had sacrificed something as important as the 500 homerun club to serve his country? His actions and life lay bear that myth. I can't read "Stan's mind, but he strikes me as one who is contented with his place in history. I'll always think of him as "The Man", who gave up a full season in his prime to serve his higher values.

I don't want to forget my A.L. friends either. There is a player of great renown who likely would have made the 600 homer club if he had not choosen to serve his higher value: Ted Williams hit 521 homeruns but also served our country's military for several prime years. Here's what wikipedia has to say Ted:

Williams served as a United States Marine Corps pilot during World War II and the Korean War. During World War II he served as a flight instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola teaching young pilots to fly the F4U Corsair. He finished the war in Hawaii and was released from active duty in January of 1946; however he did remain in the reserves.

In 1952, at the age of 34, he was recalled to active duty for service in the Korean War. After getting checked out on the new F9F Panther at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, he was assigned to VMF-311, Marine Aircraft Group 33 (MAG-33) in Korea.

Many men and women have given their lives and limbs to fight for their highest values, and I highlight these two only as reference points.

I think that the real spirit of Memorial Day is best summarized in the words of one of our Founding Fathers:

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! — Patrick Henry

My friends, remember this day and what it really means … and everything it took to get where we are today! Remember the words of Patrick Henry as you relax, comfortable and safe, and maybe take in a ball game.

I will end by saying this: thank you to every man and women in this country who has served in our military. To my friends who have served (and there are many of you), I want to extend a warm and sincere thank you to you personally. If I could, I would shake your hand and give you a hug, I am truly grateful.


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