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One of the military officials said it best yesterday, "We are here to honor warriors, not war." I joined a wonderful group of Americans yesterday, retired generals and admirals, soldiers of all rank, family members, the grieving families of two soldiers who passed away so recently. I was humbled to be among them, humbled by their sacrifice, so grateful to have a chance to honor them.
I told stories about my own family in the beginning of my remarks. My father enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1945 after the war in Europe had ended. He signed up in Maine and was put in charge of two other recruits in their trip down to the base in South Carolina. They made it as far as New York City. When they arrived at Grand Central Station, my dad saw a good looking girl who appeared to be struggling with a suitcase getting off the train. He dumped the two other recruits and told them to meet him in an hour. They never showed up.
My dad continued on to South Carolina. As he was getting off the train, he heard a loud, booming voice. "Where is the blankety-blank from Maine who lost the two recruits??" My father walked up to the Seargent. "Uh. That would be me sir." He proceeded to get his behind chewed, and then kicked by his drill instructor during the coming 6 weeks. Looking back, he was almost glad for the ribbing. He says it helped him get along with the other guys who were awfully glad they weren't the "blankety blank from Maine."
Mostly I took the opportunity yesterday to tell those in attendance at the Fort Douglas Cemetery that I am not a great American - I am a grateful American. I am a free woman, free to exercise my right to free speech every morning on KSL radio, free to dress as I like, read what I like, educate myself, make money, have children, travel, enjoy every blessed part of life. And I am a free woman because of the sacrifices of those great Americans, from my ancestors Sebastian Seybert and George Boehm who fought in the Revolutionary War, to those buried at Fort Douglas and those in attendance yesterday. Yes. Yesterday was a day to honor warriors, and I was honored to be included in such an important ceremony.