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Memorial Day 2010 Speech by
Maplewood Mayor Vic De Luca

Memorial Day 2010
Remarks by Mayor Vic De Luca

Maplewood NJ

I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant AMEN,
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington
No, Freedom isn't free.

Freedom Is Not Free, was written in 1981 by Florida high school senior, Kelly Strong. It was a tribute to his father, who served two tours in Vietnam.

Today we pay tribute to all those who lost their lives fighting to protect the rights and freedoms we enjoy today. We honor members of the military who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.

Memorial Day stretches back over 140 years to just after the Civil War, when flowers were placed at the individual gravesites of fallen Union solders. This morning we join millions of Americans, in communities from coast to coast, in saying thank you to the hundreds of thousands killed in action so our lives and the lives of our children could be better.

I want to thank Maplewood Memorial Post 10120 Veterans of Foreign Wars for bringing us together, year after year, to observe Memorial Day. Because of you, we shall never forget the shoulders on which we stand, those who fought and died to protect "the land of the free and the home of the brave."

The spirit of freedom is found right here in Maplewood. We come from many places but together we have built an open, inclusive and welcoming community. I am proud of what we've done so far. We live in unity and harmony, exemplifying the set of ideals and values for which the men and women we honor today have given their lives.

And those lives have not just been lost in wars past but our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where together nearly 5,500 American service men and women have died. For those still fighting, we pray for their safety and their speedy return home.

Sadly, since Vietnam, 35 years ago, not a single year has gone by without Americans in uniform being committed to hostile action somewhere around the world -- including Grenada, Panama, the Balkans and Kuwait. We must work harder to end wars, conflicts and violence across our planet.

From poet, Amanda Bradley:

Peace will come when people live in friendship,
Side by side
And cherish understanding,
More than hatred, greed and pride.
Peace will come when people learn to listen
And to care,
About the rights and dignity,
Of people everywhere.

On behalf of my Township Committee colleagues, Fred Profeta and Jerry Ryan, I want to wish you a safe and happy Memorial Day. This weekend may be the unofficial start of the summer but it is also a time of remembrance and reflection.

Let us honor those who died for our country by committing ourselves to working on making the world a better and safer place for our children and generations to come.

Thank you.

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