Conley Ford's 2007 Memorial Day Speech

Conley W. Ford
Scituate American Legion Post 144

CONLEY FORD SPEECH: Memorial Day, May 28, 2007.

Good morning, everyone.

My name is Conley Ford and, as commander, I am proud to represent Scituate American Legion Post 144 on this 
Memorial Day 2007. It is an honor to stand before you today on this solemn occasion to commemorate members of the Armed Forces killed in war. Today it is more important than ever in American history that we take time to reflect and remember our fallen comrades
and those missing in action. And let us not forget those here at home, who paid the ultimate sacrifice, like Scituate's Sergeant. Michael Kelley, who
two years ago next month, was killed by an enemy rocket attack in Afghanistan. Ladies and gentlemen, kids, town officials and fellow veterans: I want to make one thing very clear: I am proud to be an American and I am proud of America. It may not be politically correct in 2007 to be patriotic, but patriotism is a quality that 25 million veterans and those
on active duty in 177 countries continue to share. We take pride in the country that we were sworn to serve. So what does that mean? What does it mean today to be a patriotic American? Abraham Lincoln - one of our greatest presidents - said: "I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be
proud of him." Let me repeat Lincoln's words: "I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be
proud of him." Forty-seven years ago, I raised my right hand and took an oath consisting of 70 words to serve my country. I was the
seventh of seven brothers to do so. I wanted to serve. I wanted to do something that mattered. I wanted my country to
be proud of me.
All veterans remember the day they took that oath. They said the same words, they swore to the same oath. Those
veterans, who are buried in Scituate veterans cemetery, also said the same words that were first adopted in 1789. This is our oath: "I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies,
foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the
President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and
the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." My nephew, Ryan, took the oath to serve. He just returned from 7 months patrolling the Sunni Triangle. Both my sons, Jarat and James, took the oath to serve. James served 13 months in Ramadi. On this very day, Jarat, is protecting the skies over Baghdad. Paul, another member of Post 144, is on his second tour in Iraq. They are all proud Americans. But there is a question in their eyes - not about their patriotism, but about ours: about our commitment as a nation
to them and their comrades who are in harms way. Can you blame them? We hear all about Michael Moore and Sean Penn and their anti-American rhetoric. But we hear nothing about Gary Sinise, who started Operation Iraqi Children that teams up with American troops to
get the school supplies into the hands of Iraqi students. We hear nothing about Denzel Washington who after visiting injured troops made a large donation to The Fisher
Houses, which are hotels where soldiers' families can stay, for little or no charge, while their loved one is staying
in the hospital. We hear nothing about Scituate's Maura Yanosick and her volunteer efforts with the Blue Star Mothers organization. War has never been pretty and most wars have never been popular. Those who fight wars know that better than anyone. General Douglas MacArthur said: "The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer
and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." Honoring today's veterans and remembering those who have paid the ultimate price must go on. How can we do that? Observing Memorial Day and Veterans Day is important. But those are just two days a year. When you see a man or woman in uniform: don't be afraid to say "Thank you for your service." If you have a military family next door or down the street - ask them how their son or daughter is. Include them in
your prayers. See if they need anything. Please remember Scituate's Michael Kelley; keep Michael and his family in your hearts. Send letters and packages to our troops. Let them know they are not forgotten. But most of all: Be proud to be an American. Too many Americans today think they have to apologize for being a citizen of the United States. An acquaintance told my wife recently that before his son went to Europe for the summer - friends told him while
over there: "Tell people you are Canadian." I impress upon you that all those who fought and died on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day did not do so that
60 years later their grandchildren would be ashamed to say: "I am an American!" The fact is that thousands of Americans are buried in Europe: Americans, who answered our country's call to
save the world from the worst tyranny in history. We dishonor those who died for us if we don't believe in America. I am telling you today from the bottom of my heart: Be proud of America. Believe in America. Give something back to America. To quote from the Lee Greenwood song: "I'm proud to be an American, Where at least I know I am free. I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right
to me. I will proudly stand up next to him to defend her still today, because there is no doubt I love this land.
God bless the USA" Ladies and Gentlemen, kids and veterans: "God Bless America. God bless our troops. God Bless the USA!"

Email the Webmaster with your opinions or questions.
Last edited on June 3, 2007