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They Gave It All


The Sun rises over the horizon on yet another Monday in South Florida. The sand beneath my feet is cool as the overnight temperatures in late May bring about an early morning reminiscent of April. There will be no work today, as today is a federal holiday known as Memorial Day.

 

Originally known as Decoration Day, this holiday was first observed on May 30, 1868, to honor the soldiers of the Union Army killed during the Civil War. By 1890, every Union State was recognizing the holiday. Annually observed on May 30th, Congress officially made the observance the last Monday in May and standardized the name to Memorial Day.

 

Memorial Day is not just another holiday; it is a solemn occasion to remember the empty seats at dinner tables, the silent phones with no calls, and the pictures on mantles of loved ones who never came home. Their absence is felt deeply by families and friends, yet their presence remains a powerful reminder of the cost of our freedoms. They left behind dreams unfulfilled, futures uncharted, and lives cut short, all in the name of an ideal greater than themselves. Their bravery is the cornerstone upon which our daily lives rest.

 

When I think of these fallen heroes, I envision not just soldiers in uniform, but individuals with unique stories, families, and aspirations. Whether they served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Merchant Marines, or Coast Guard, they did so voluntarily, driven by an unwavering sense of duty and love for their country. Their sacrifices span generations, from the battlefields of Gettysburg to the beaches of Normandy, from the jungles of Vietnam to the deserts of the Middle East. Each conflict, each era, brought forth men and women who stood resolute in the face of danger and adversity.

 

As the sun continues to rise high into the hot summer sky, there will be cookouts and pool parties, and hamburgers and hot dogs will be devoured ad nauseam, with decorations of red, white, and blue donning our landscape. Many are excited about the three-day weekend, and school-age children have begun the countdown to the last day of school.

 

Hopefully, amongst the pleasures and celebrations on this day will be a time of reflection on the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes—those brave service members who gave everything, their very lives, to preserve and protect our freedoms as Americans. It’s a moving reminder to honor and remember the men and women who paid the ultimate price so we may enjoy liberties often taken for granted. The importance of this observance cannot be overstated.

 

I often think about the personal impact of their sacrifice—how their ultimate gift has shaped my own life and the lives of those around me. Because of their bravery, I have the freedom to express my thoughts, pursue my dreams, and live my life without the shadow of tyranny or oppression. Their sacrifices have paved the way for the freedoms that define America—freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and the freedom to live and love as we choose. These are not just abstract ideals; they are the tangible benefits of the blood, sweat, and tears shed by our service members.


Has my life served a purpose worthy of their sacrifice? In the wonder and beauty of this great nation and the part I play in my little corner of the world, I hope my contributions are making a difference in the lives of others and positively impacting the values these servicemen and women fought so valiantly to protect. Their legacy challenges us all to live lives that reflect the principles of democracy, justice, and unity; to honor their memory by striving to be better citizens, better human beings.

 

One of the most profound ways we can honor our fallen heroes is through our actions. Emulating their dedication and courage in our own lives can be a powerful tribute. It means fervently supporting our veterans, who have also endured great hardships. It means participating actively in our communities, fostering unity, and building a society that reflects the values these service members held dear. It means educating our children about the importance of remembrance and ensuring that the stories of our fallen heroes are passed down through generations.

 

Honoring our fallen also means recognizing the families they left behind. Gold Star families bear the weight of their loss every day, and it is our responsibility to support them, acknowledge their sacrifice, and let them know that their loved ones will never be forgotten. Their pain is a testament to the human cost of freedom, a burden that we must share by standing with them in solidarity and gratitude.

 

Lighting a candle, laying a wreath, or simply taking a moment of silence—these acts are small, yet meaningful gestures that connect us to the profound courage of our fallen heroes. As we remember them, let us also renew our commitment to the principles they fought for: liberty, equality, and justice for all. These are the pillars upon which our nation stands, strengthened by the sacrifices of those we honor on Memorial Day.

 

This Memorial Day, I have chosen to speak the names of a small segment of soldiers who died in service to our great nation. Please help me honor the hundreds of thousands who fought and died by reading and honoring these 122 names of heroes from my hometown, Palm Beach County, Florida, who valiantly served and gave it all during World War II.

 

As Memorial Day comes and goes, let their memory not fade. Let us carry their stories in our hearts, honoring their sacrifices every day by living lives of purpose, unity, and gratitude.

 

CPL James W Alderman PVT Andrew J Anderson 2nd LT Harry N Anderson


FL O John N Bailey PVT William C Baker PVT Oscar K Bass


PFC Robert F Bensel PFC George Bouffleur PFC Richard E Bow


2nd LT Newell W Brainard 2nd LT Winford Brinker Jr PVT Eston E Brooks


TEC5 Freddie L Camano FL O Malcolm B Campbell 2nd LT John M Carves


PVT Joe L Chaney PFC Francis W Colbath PFC Arlester Cole


2nd LT Elisha E Coleman Jr S Sgt John C Davis PVT Mack L Durden


3rd LT Charles R Durkee Jr S Sgt John C Elliott TEC4 John P Engram


AV C Keith G Erickson PFC Morgan Fairfield Jr PVT William C Fisher


2nd LT Cecil O Fuquay T SGT Charles L Galloway PVT Winfred W Gayler


TEC4 Hubert D Geiger PVT Hubert C Gibson PFC John P Graham


PFC John D Gruber PVT Carl R Hainey CAPT Richard H Hamilton


S SGT Lenton R Harbin PVT William D Harrelson PVT Dewey R Heichel


PVT George P Hendrix S SGT Winfred V Hensley 2nd LT William F Herpel


S SGT Donald E Hobby MAJ Frank L Hoerner T SGT F H Hollingsworth


S SGT Richlyn H Holt PVT Benjamin Jackson PFC Howell Jones


PVT Francis D Jordan PVT Thomas L Jordan Jr 2nd LT Hugh J Kelley


CAPT Rae C Kelley PVT Eddie L Kelly SGT Thomas E Kemp


SGT Harold A Kennedy S SGT Price A Keyes PVT Paul R Kilpatrick


PVT Harold L Kinsey PVT James L Kirks PFC Donald H C Kressal


         John M Kringel 2nd LT Albert H Lane PFC Charles B Large


S SGT Thomas A Lewis PFC Luke W Lobsinger Jr TEC5 William J Lowery


FL O Roswell S Mayer PFC Earl W Mayes CAPT Shelby G McManus


PVT Jack L McMillen 1st LT Richard C Meebold S SGT Samuel M Mikill


FL O Robert A Mills PVT Earl O Minx Jr SGT William C Moore


2nd LT William H Moore PVT Alan H Mosher 2nd LT Reginald M Newell


PVT Bradley O’Neal 2nd LT Ira L O’Neal Jr 2nd LT Gerald E Quinn


1st LT James M Owens 3rd  SGT Thadious H Padgette PFC Thomas C Parrot S


SGT Richard S Paulk PVT Roy D Pogue T SGT Girlie G Reese


1st LT Marion U Reid 2nd LT George H Riley PFC Homer J Rood


PVT Edward C Rosenbaum 1st LT Donald A Ross S SGT James W Sandiford


2nd LT Wayne S Scott TEC5 Allan B Singer PFC Aatos O Sisto


3rd LT Martin Smith CPL Roland C L Smith MAJ Thaddeus E Smith


PVT James B Solana Jr SGT Richard C Sowell 2nd LT Watson M Stephens


S SGT Edwin C Stevens PFC Robert T Stone Sr S SGT David E Stutzman


CPL David K Sutherland S SGT Franklin T Sutton PFC William R Swafford


2nd LT Joseph F Taulbee S SGT Thomas Taylor PFC George W Tesch


PVT Albert Thomas TEC5 Knobby L Thomas S SGT James W Uewell


SGT Robert R Underwood 2nd LT R C Van Munster S SGT Charles L Vreeland


PVT John L Wells PVT Earnest W J Williams TEC5 Dexter E Wilson


CPL Cecil P Woods 2nd LT Elsworth A Wright

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Beautiful tribute to our fallen.

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