I write this post today with a heavy heart. I've started and restarted the writing of it, and can't quite seem to find the words to say what's in my heart. The older I get, the more I realize that thank you just doesn't suffice.
It was nearly 42 years ago that my father lay on hill 67 in the jungles of the Northern Quang Tri Province in Vietnam fighting for his life. It was on that hill, on the morning of June 27, 1967, that Cpl Anthony "Tony" Dicesare, Jr., 2nd Lt Dale Allen, LCpl Charles "Chuck" Gattis, and SSgt Donald Hamilton died trying to save my father's life.
I'll never forget the first time my family went together to visit the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. I'd been there before by myself, but never with my father. I didn't know the whole story before that day. My father found the first name, and as he lay his hand over the etched stone, I began to realize how deeply he felt about the names written there. The memorial provides paper and pencils so that anyone who visits can trace the names they wish. He began to trace, and name after name he traced...12 in all. My mother stood quietly by, her hand gently supporting him as he knelt, head bowed, honoring those men who gave their lives. You see, freedom isn't free.
I don't quite know how to put into words what I feel for men like the brave marines who pulled my father's wounded body to safety and the others who gave their lives that day. Somehow, thank you just isn't enough. We honor them here today, and millions more like them who have given their lives so that we may live in freedom. Men like my father have seen the price of freedom, and it isn't free. To all of you who serve or have served, thank you from the very bottom of my heart. To those who have lost your loved ones in the service of this great nation, thank you for your sacrifice. We honor all of you today.