Hennen: Thank you to the men and women who put 'America first'
Hennen writes, "American greatness is not a slogan. It has defined us since these heroes gave their lives for us. Let's honor their sacrifice every day."
If you use the phrases "America First" or "Keep America Great" among the wrong crowd, you may get an earful of political zingers. But recent days have brought two important holidays that suggest we have long been a country that holds those ideals dear.
Memorial Day has been celebrated in America since the late 1860s. Originally known as "Decoration Day," it's the day when we honor those who died serving our great country. This year I attended a Memorial Day mass led by the most reverend John Folda, Bishop of Fargo. The words from his homily have me thinking of those who gave their life to put "America First."
"I’m sure you remember the words that Jesus spoke to the apostles: There is no greater love than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends," Folda said. "Our brothers and sisters who laid down their lives for others, even for those they never met and didn’t know, they have exhibited the kind of love that Jesus speaks of."
"Memorial Day is a secular day of remembrance, but it has a profound spiritual dimension, too. We can’t remember those departed brothers and sisters without feeling a sense of gratitude, a sense of thanksgiving. Gratitude is a grace, a holy disposition, a humble realization that all we have is a gift," he continued. "And our gratitude certainly extends to the many who have given so much in public service to others. Gratitude expands our own hearts, and hopefully we can learn from the example of the brothers and sisters we remember today, many of whom did in fact lay down their lives for others."
I have an unending gratitude for those who put America first and died doing it. That is a profound gift for all of us.
This past Monday was "D-Day." Seventy-eight years ago the armies of America descended upon Normandy, France, from the sea and sky. Soon the sands of French beaches were colored bright with the blood of these heroes. The great crusade to liberate France began. We led the cause to fight for a continent enslaved, and began the work of making it free.
June 6, 1944, was a uniquely American moment. In the men of D-Day, the rangers climbing the high cliffs, the glider pilots crash landings, the soldiers struggling forward in rough waters, we find an America willing to join with its allies in a noble cause. All led by Americans willing to pay the price for freedom.
Let's hope that large numbers of the Y, Z and Alpha generations are willing to "Keep America Great," just like those from the generations before them did. I was recently on a flight with about 10 young marines leaving North Dakota for boot camp in San Diego. Their steely resolve was evident in a short conversation. They are obviously putting America first, when many of their peers are choosing an easier path.
American greatness is not a slogan. It has defined us since these heroes gave their lives for us. Let's honor their sacrifice every day.
Scott Hennen hosts the statewide radio program “What’s On Your Mind?” On AM 1100 “The Flag”, KFYR AM 550, AM 1090 KTGO “The Flag” and AM 1460 KLTC. Email him at ScottH@FlagFamily.com
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