This weekend, we will join with our families and friends to celebrate a very special holiday – Memorial Day. Every time I drive past the Marine Corp. base at Camp Pendleton, I can’t help but think about all the brave men and women who are risking their lives to protect the many freedoms we enjoy.
I know many of you have loved ones who are currently serving our country – both at home and abroad. And, I simply could not let this weekend pass without paying tribute to all of the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of all Americans.
This weekend, I ask each and every one of you to put your business and personal cares aside, and spend a little time paying tribute to our fallen soldiers – and to those who are currently serving. For just a few minutes, talk about what this day really means and help your children understand that Memorial Day is not about picnics and the beach. Explain that others have paid the ultimate price so that we can enjoy these things.
I also encourage you to consider volunteering or donating to your local chapter of the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Both organizations are the leading advocates for our military service members and veterans.
If you fly the stars and stripes at your own home, please remember to lower it to half staff from sunrise until noon on Monday.
Most importantly, when you see a veteran, take a few minutes to thank them personally for their courage and service.
On behalf of all REALTORS®, I extend my deepest appreciation to all who have served our country, and I pay special tribute to those who are actively engaged in conflicts abroad.
I pledge that NAR will continue to fight here in Washington to give you the recognition and benefits you so deserve. And, I pray that every soldier will return “home” safely to enjoy many more holiday weekends with their families and friends.
I want to leave you today with you a poem, written by Coast Guard Commander Kelly Strong, as a tribute to his father – a career Marine, who served in Vietnam. It’s called “Freedom is Not Free.”
May it be a reminder to all of us of the sacrifices that so many Americans have made to protect our rights for more than 250 years…
Freedom Is Not Free
I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
How many pilots’ planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, freedom isn’t free.
I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant “Amen,”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn’t free.
Dick Gaylord, 2008 NAR President