Ceremony honors those who died for their country
JANESVILLE From the Civil War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of American men and women have fought and died for our freedom.
Vice Adm. Dirk J. Debbink explained that those men and women—those who have served in the armed forces—paid the ultimate price.
"There arguably is no greater sacrifice one can make than to give one's life for one's country," he said. "Those heroes wrote new chapters in our story of freedom."
Debbink, a Wisconsin native who now serves as chief of the Navy Reserve and commander of the Navy Reserve Force, gave the keynote address during the Memorial Day ceremony in Traxler Park on Monday.
He spoke of the inadequacy of pithy statements and compelling anecdotes.
"The eloquence of words today cannot match the sacrifices of so many," he said. "We honor them, we praise them and we remember them this day. But we do something else. We acknowledge that their struggle—the ancient struggle to be free—goes on today."
Debbink said American men and women for hundreds of years have fought and died for liberty and equality—the principles upon which our country was founded.
"Those ideas built a nation worth defending," he said.
Debbink said the challenges are new, but the reasons why we rise to meet them are the same.
"The battlefronts are different, and the equipment has changed, but the fight is the same," he said. "The concepts we defend are the same: liberty and equality. And we are a free people because we have not wavered from those ideals."
Debbink reminded those in attendance that the men and women serving today are following the example set by those who fought before them.
"May we never forget those who died," he said. "May we never fail to live up to the high standards they set for us. And may we never falter in our defense of freedom at home and abroad."