Bill Bruen’s Memorial Day Speech

Good morning.

Major thank you very much for that very nice introduction, I appreciate it.

It’s so nice to see such a great turnout this year.  I truly believe that you being here to honor our veterans and their memory is truly America at its best.  And we can sure use that.

I was asked to briefly comment on what Memorial Day means to me.

Today, your commitment to be here to honor those whose lives were sacrificed to preserve our everyday freedoms, is something to be recognized and acknowledged.  Many of these men and women were leaving their parents’ home for the very first time.  Some of them may not have even understood the commitment and they had just made.  They simply understood that it was something they needed to do.

This is not an easy day for many people and I understand that.  Having served in the Navy during the Viet Nam era, it was a very politically and socially divisive and challenging time, which I understood then and I still understand today.

Looking back, I often hesitated sometimes to tell certain high school classmates that I would be attending the Naval Academy. I came to realize that their ability to freely attend peaceful protests and even to burn our flag, which made my blood boil, was exactly what I wanted to defend.

So, what does this day mean to me?

It means, remembering and not taking for granted our freedoms. Waking up every morning in this country is a gift.

Please look around you right now.  REALLY, look around you.  If you see someone with a military or Department of Defense insignia, thank them for their service. If they are law enforcement, fire department, ambulance squad, or public works, please do the same. If they are community volunteers and smiling neighbors, thank them and introduce yourself.

When we were getting ready for the parade this morning up at the school, there was one of the young boys who was going to be in the parade was so excited to be in the parade and I asked him what he was going to do when the parade was over and he just couldn’t contain himself.  He said my dad is taking my sister and me fishing in Bayne Park and then the whole family is coming over for a cookout and then because there is no school tomorrow we’re both going to get to do a sleepover at my grandparent’s house.  That I think you will all agree is exactly what we fought for.

I would also like to thank Father Brian and Reverend Stone for any part they may have played in arranging this weather today.

God bless us all, our fallen sons and daughters and these United States of America.  And not only bless us, but may we always be deserving of that blessing.

Thank you very much.

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