Honoring the ultimate sacrifice

Published 11:20 pm Thursday, May 21, 2015

By Chris Quilpa

Once again, it’s Memorial Day in the United States, a special holiday to remember and pay tribute to those who have served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice — losing their lives — in order for us to live peacefully and free.

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is an annual national holiday observed on the last Monday of May to honor the memory of our service men and women who died for our sake. It has been a tradition to decorate the gravestones of our dead soldiers with U.S. flags, flowers or wreaths.

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Some of our valiant veterans came home alive while with memories of doubts and fears on the battlefield. They shared with us their war stories, their sentiments and ailments, dreams and nightmares.

Others shared their lives lost, their unblemished and unquestionable service and sacrifices, their innocence and courage, bravery and humility. But they didn’t die in vain. They will never be forgotten.

Although they are no longer in our midst, our dead service men and women remain alive in our memories, our hearts and minds because of the unwavering devotion, service and sacrifices they’ve made. Their bravery, in defense of our freedom and country, can never be underestimated. And their legacy of service and sacrifice lives on as an inspiration to all of us.

Their good and noble deeds have made America the leader of the free world. Through their sacrifices, we are all beneficiaries of democracy, freedom and liberty.

Therefore, on this special day of observance and commemoration, we thank, honor and remember our brave soldiers and veterans, our dedicated men and women of the U.S. armed forces, who have proudly served and sacrificed, fighting to achieve and preserve the peace and the freedom we cherish and enjoy.

As we try to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, while we gather together in churches and cemeteries to offer solemn prayers and lay flowers or wreaths for our dead veterans, let’s pause for a few moment and reflect on the many contributions our veterans have made to our great nation. To our unsung heroes of war and peace, thank you.

Below is my poem, “In Loving Memory,” which I humbly dedicate to all of our dead service men and women:

In Loving Memory

With hope and valor

You fought for freedom

Without fear or reservation

You shed tears and blood

To the end…

Committed to defend your country

You fought decisively

Struggled hard to win victory

With so much pain

Sacrifice and suffering…

In the service to humanity

You left us a legacy

To cherish and to uphold

That love for one’s country

Is worth dying for!

Gone but not forgotten

Yet honored today, yesterday, forever

You, the unsung heroes,

The freedom-lovers and –fighters,

The peacemakers and peacekeepers,

You will always be our ideal,

Our inspiration

For a better life, a world

Where there is love and unity

Peace and brotherhood

Among humankind.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.