Memorial Day remarks
by U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Roland E. Arnall
Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial Margraten, May 28, 2006
General and Mrs. Blomjous, Minister and Mrs. Kamp, Excellencies, Honorable senators,
Governor and Mrs. Frissen, General McKiernen, Mayor and Mrs. van Beers, honored
veterans and relatives of those who have fallen, other distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
John F. Kennedy said,
nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price,
bear any burden meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure
the survival and success of liberty."
We are gathered here today as proud Americans and Dutchmen to give homage and deference to our fellow countrymen who bore the ultimate price and to protect and ensure the "survival and success of liberty."
We are a proud people - you and I. We are passionate in our belief in the freedom of our nations and the respect and human dignity of our citizenry. There is a fundamental tenet to which we all espouse and that is the right to live among and beside each other as equals. Our ancestral histories, past and recent, are rampant with the sacrifice of our children - sacrifice that continues today because of the terrorism we face both at home and abroad.
President George W. Bush said, "We are given power not to advance our own purposes, nor to make a great show in the world, nor a name, There is but one just use of power and it is to serve people." Too many generations have witnessed, been devastated by, individuals with distorted illusions of power and despotism.
Good-byes have been whispered in agony and uncertainty: hearts are bereft and bodies bloodied in the vanguard of victory; and, hopes and prayers are cradled in unrelenting tears and tortured hearts. We stand today to memorialize our fallen heroes. We honor them, pay tribute to them and miss them terribly.
As a proud American and a survivor of World War II, I have the privilege to share in today's auspicious ceremony with you. Like many of you, my early childhood memories are fractured by the ravages of war. The experiences that helped give my life direction and nurtured my values I first learned from the American soldiers who liberated then German-occupied France. I was a young Jewish boy struggling to survive the horrors of the Third Reich. The panic, the dread, associated with the word Nazi was unimaginable except to those who also suffered their atrocities.
The Americans were the prospects of a dream to come true; and for me and millions of others it did. America and the Netherlands share an exceptional camaraderie and alliance. We hold to a tradition of cooperation with the Dutch government; a bilateral relationship which is one of the oldest and most enduring friendships in our nation's history.
In 1581 in the town of Leyden, the central authorities sought to control and censure the printing of books. The town's magistrates renounced the order and wrote, "Reason, which is the adversary of all tyrants, teaches us that truth can be as little restrained as light." Thomas Jefferson said, One man with courage is a majority." We - our fallen heroes and our futures heroes - Will not be restrained and we are a majority.
Today especially we hold onto golden memories and remember yesterday's dreams. Our hearts will forever anguish for all our soldiers and countrymen who stand in ghostly silence here beneath the veil of eternity. We herald their bravery; we salute their allegiance; and, we commemorate their sacrifice.
Our love for family, country and heritage knows no rival, no defeat, in tragedy. We embrace our dreams and see them draw life everafter in our children. They are the future and with them we cast aside the shadows of haunting memories. They are the promise that rises with the sun and blossoms with the morning's dew.
I am fortunate,
grateful, and honored to be here with you today. Fortunate in realizing my dreams;
grateful to have survived when so many perished; and honored to pay reverence
to the hallowed memories of all our fallen heroes.
With a moment of quiet solitude for each of us, I want to share George Bernard Shaw's words with you. "Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing -it on ---- to future generations."
Text and Ambassador's picture courtesy of U.S. Embassy to the Netherlands, The Hague