Reagan – Memorial Day Tribute – We are Americans
Full transcript: If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth, it was because here in this land we unleash the energy an individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available, and assured here than in any other place on earth.
The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price. Those who say that we’re in a time when there are no heroes; they just don’t know where to look. The sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery, with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David, they add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom.
Each one of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Bella wood, the Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred and rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.
Under one such marker lies a young man Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small-town barbershop in 1917, to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There on the Western Front, he was killed, trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire. We’re told, that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf, under the heading my pledge, he had written these words: “America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure. I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.
We must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism, and prey upon their neighbors.
As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it, we will not surrender for it, now or ever. We are Americans.