Memorial Day Speech

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It is not Presidents or Kings, celebrities or other heroes of hearsay and mass publicity you have been told about second hand, nor famous leaders who appeared and went mysteriously on television, that I ask you now to commemorate and recall.
Rather I ask you to look within yourself, inside to the Kingdom of God, to remember family, mentors and friends you have known and admired. Recall parents, relatives and friends who could have done otherwise but chose to live decently for you or did something for you that affected your life affirmatively forever.
Remember the good people in your life who helped or did some thing they did not really have to do. Often these people may have had only modest means but they were rich in integrity and a sense of what was right and good. They had the courage to build families. They worked hard to support others. They may have received little in life but they endured. So did their families.
These did their part in community life. They were church members, school teachers, choir singers. They did their duty as voters, charity donors and soldiers. They were parents often of exasperating children, maybe you were one, who could make anybody want to give up, but they did not. They were husbands and wives who stayed together because they felt they had a charge to keep, a home to hold together and maintain whatever came. They looked after the young and held up those crippled by senility and age. In a thousand ways they soldiered on in life for others and to help ideals they felt were bigger than they were.
These strong people refused to surrender to the thousand natural shocks and strains that all flesh must and will endure. They raised their goals in life from mere survival in nature to a higher plateau of survival with honour. They elevated what could have been only average lives into a higher struggle for an honorable survival and the protection of others. They were truly valiant, silently striving, at times losing, yet often amazingly achieving in the long run.
They understood the principle of self-sacrifice. Success in anything runs on it. They sacrificed for the well being of their families, the betterment of their children, the welfare of their communities, the protection of their country and the building of churches that exemplified their faith in a divine providence.
When they died, they left the memory of their characters as a great heritage, establishing for the future a trust to keep with the dead, and leaving high standards to measure up to.
If it does not often seem so now, let us remember that there are still good, brave and dependable people around in large numbers: a silent watching army of strong, calm and grace affirming people. These are the ones to whom medals should be given, but few give medals to, as their ideals and views are not widely appreciated among the intellectually fashionable.
Yet the example of the good people who have gone before us or, perhaps, still with us, should be raised high above us like flags that we may move beneath them or advance behind them in our struggle for a better world.
It is their good memories that prove to us the fundamental decency of mankind is not a mere possibility but an often proven reality. Their lives demonstrate to us that ultimate victory, in spite of doubts, fears and many errors, can go to the good but not perfect. ( I strongly intend not to imply perfect because while these people were good, they were never perfect as you may also well remember.)
For good people such as you remember, admire, and perhaps loved, the trumpet sounded as they crossed to the other side but on this side their struggle is still to be continued by us. We must accept their challenge to struggle, and it is often a hard struggle just to survive. But we must dare as they did to move the battle to a higher ground where we endeavor not just to make it, but to make it with consideration for others, morality, human dignity, our families safe and our souls intact.
Now having memorialized the dead, go out in faith. Live in creativity and benevolence. The grace that did not fail those you have known and loved will not fail you. Grace means abounding hope forever shining. The light of grace that shone out in those you knew and thought well of may be found ablaze in you, though you perceive it not, others probably will. Chances are you will be what you have been exposed to. You may not know how fortunate you are to have been exposed to such good people in your life as you now have remembered. If some are still alive, how fortunate you are to have time left to honor and enjoy them. Knowing this and in all things, Give God The Glory. AMEN
(To the audience) The pipers are coming forward. They will play commemorative music on the pipes, first a Scots lament, “Flowers of the Forest,” followed by a still well-known early American hymn, “Amazing Grace.” It is to be hoped as their music commemorates, you may rededicate yourself to the qualities and values that made those you have remembered here stand out so worthily for you.


Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.


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