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Thank you Rolling Thunder for the impact you've made on POW/MIA recognition nationwide. The iconic group gathered on U.S. Navy Memorial Plaza Saturday May 25th, for a Wreath Laying Ceremony, reminding these service members "You Are Not Forgotten."
U.S. Navy Memorial
Good afternoon. It's An Honor to stand before you today - I do so ON COMMON GROUND WITH ALL OF YOU - as AN AMERICAN FAMILY MEMBER - As a Veteran of the Pledge of Allegiance. AND as a Committed Member of Rolling Thunder National...
RESPECT. Dutiful Regard.
IF THERE IS ONE WORD - ONE THING YOU REMEMBER FROM OUR BRIEF TIME SPENT TOGETHER TODAY - IT IS THE WORD RESPECT. IT IS WHY WE ARE HERE TODAY. IT IS THROUGH THE GLASSES OF RESPECT THAT WE ARE ABLE TO FULLY SEE - IDENTIFY - PROCESS - COMPREHEND - ALL THAT THERE IS TO BE SEEN. ALL THAT WHICH IS REQUIRED OF US - EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US AS AMERICANS - PERPETUALLY...
WE MUST ALWAYS IDENTIFY Yesterday - OUR PAST - TO PROCESS Today - OUR PRESENT - AND TO COMPREHEND Tomorrow - OUR FUTURE.
This weekend, We Gather here in Washington DC TO RESPECT - TO PAY TRIBUTE To America's Fallen U.S. SERVICEMEMBERS - TO AMERICA'S PATRIOT SONS & DAUGHTERS. Memorial Day is about Honoring and Remembering AMERICAN FAMILY MEMBERS - over 1 million to date - who made the ultimate sacrifice for us, for our freedom:
SOLDIERS. SAILORS. AIRMEN. MARINES. COASTGUARDSMEN.
HERE TODAY - WE HONOR AND REMEMBER OUR MISSING & UNACCOUNTED FOR - OUR LOST AMERICAN SOULS - ALSO WITHOUT A VOICE, WITHOUT A PHYSICAL PRESENCE - OUR U.S. SERVICEMEMBERS CLASSIFIED AS POW/MIA - last seen as PRISONERS OF WAR - LAST DECLARED MISSING IN ACTION.
The U.S. Navy - The U.S. Advocacy Group Rolling Thunder - U.S. Citizens - STAND TOGETHER - UNITED AS ONE - To Honor & Remember - TO Recognize - TO RESPECT - "YOU" - THE "YOU" - Yankee - Oscar - Uniform - AT THE VERY CORE OF ROLLING THUNDER'S MANTRA - "YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN" - EACH & EVERY SINGLE SOUL WHO REMAINS MISSING & UNACCOUNTED FOR TODAY.
SINCE THE TIMES OF FRANCIS SCOTT KEY - AND THE VERY MOMENTS HE WOULD PEN OUR AMERICAN NATIONAL ANTHEM WHILE STANDING ON THE DECK OF A SHIP WITH A HULL FULL OF AMERICAN PRISONERS BELOW HIS FEET - TO OUR CURRENT TIMES - OVER HALF-A-MILLION - OVER 500,000 FELLOW AMERICANS - SERVICEMEMBERS - WOULD BE TAKEN PRISONER IN THE PURSUIT OF FREEDOM.
SINCE AN OFFICIAL TRACKING SYSTEM BEGAN STARTING WITH WWII - MORE THAN 91,000 OF OUR U.S. SERVICEMEMBERS WERE DECLARED PRISONERS-OF-WAR AND MISSING-IN-ACTION. UNACCOUNTED FOR.
TODAY - MORE THAN 82,000 OF THOSE 91,000 SOULS REMAIN MISSING AND UNACCOUNTED FOR. OF THAT NUMBER - MORE THAN 31,000 ARE U.S. NAVY SERVICEMEMBERS.
THAT IS HOW MANY OF OUR AMERICAN FAMILY MEMBERS ARE NOT HOME YET - WHO DID NOT RETURN.
IT IS ABSOLUTELY STAGGERING WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT. AND THINKING ABOUT IT IS THE POINT OF TODAY - THE POINT OF THE POW/MIA SYMBOL FOUND FLYING ON FLAGS NATIONWIDE - FOUND ON OUR COMMEMORATIVE CHAIRS NATIONWIDE - FOUND ELSEWHERE AND OTHERWISE NATIONWIDE.
YOU SEE - MUCH LIKE THE LONE SAILOR - STANDING HERE IN THIS VERY CIRCLE - IS A BEACON OF HOPE FOR THE U.S. NAVY AND BEYOND - SO THERE IS OUR "YOU" WITHIN OUR CIRCLE - FOUND CENTER MASS ON THE POW/MIA FLAG - FOUND ON THE FRONT OF EVERY ROLLING THUNDER MEMBER'S VEST - OUR SINGLE LONE FACE - REPRESENTING ALL THAT CANNOT BE SEEN OTHERWISE - REPRESENTING ALL THOSE WHO WOULDN'T BE SEEN OTHERWISE.
TODAY, WE GATHER HERE ON A 32 YEAR OLD MEMORIAL PLAZA WITH OUR VERY FOOTING WITHIN THIS GLOBE - ON WHAT'S BEEN CALLED THE WORLD'S LARGEST MAP, UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF THE LONE SAILOR - TO RESPECT.
AND AS WE GATHER HERE THIS AFTERNOON - WE STAND TOGETHER ON ANOTHER PLAZA OF A WORLD-REACHING DUTIFUL REGARD - A 32 YEAR OLD TRADITION - ROLLING THUNDER'S 'RIDE FOR FREEDOM'....
While we are all very familiar with the term 'Ride For Freedom' - Today, This afternoon, I speak to you about the 'Ring For Freedom' - THE WREATH:
THE FREEDOM BEFORE IT - THE HEAVY LOSS BEHIND IT - THE LESSON FROM IT.
THE WREATH IS CONSTRUCTED TO FORM A RING - IT'S SYMBOLISM USED SINCE AT LEAST THE TIME OF ANCIENT GREECE TO REPRESENT A CIRCLE OF ETERNAL LIFE.
THE WREATH WE DEDICATE TODAY IS ABOUT ETERNAL LIFE. A LIVING SYMBOL OF THE COST OF FREEDOM.
THE WREATH - LIKE THIS VERY MEMORIAL PLAZA - IS ABOUT "KEEPING REMEMBRANCE ALIVE" - THE VERY DEFINITION OF THE WORD 'MEMORIAL.' THE MEN AND WOMEN BEHIND THIS VERY WREATH - OUR AMERICAN FAMILY MEMBERS - EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM - OVER 1 MILLION IN TOTALITY - TENS OF THOUSANDS AS CURRENT AMERICAN POWs/MIAs - HAVE RAISED THEIR RIGHT HAND, SWORE AN OATH OF ENLISTMENT - SERVED OUR COUNTRY - MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE - FOR US ALL - FOR OUR PARENTS, OUR GRANDPARENTS, OUR GREAT GRANDPARENTS, AND WELL BEYOND - YESTERDAY - FOR OUR CHILDREN, OUR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN, AND WELL BEYOND - TOMORROW - AND THIS WREATH BEFORE US HERE TODAY IN MANY WAYS IS ALL THAT'S LEFT OF THEM...
THE VERY CULTURE OF REMEMBRANCE IS:
"The interaction of an individual or a society with their past and history."
WE OF COURSE CANNOT CHANGE, UNDO, SO MUCH OF THAT WHICH LIES IN THE SHADOWS BEFORE US THIS VERY DAY - BUT - WE SURE CAN CHANGE, CAN DO, SO MUCH AHEAD AFTER THIS DAY'S SHADOW IS CAST.
AND WE CAN BEST START TO DO THAT BY FIRST ALWAYS BEING AWARE, MAKING THOSE AROUND US AWARE.
I SPEAK OF SITUATIONAL AWARENESS.
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS IS THE ABILITY TO IDENTIFY, PROCESS, AND COMPREHEND THE CRITICAL ELEMENTS OF INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING TO A TEAM WITH REGARDS TO THE MISSION.
IT'S KNOWING WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND THEM.
>THE TEAM I SPEAK TO OF COURSE IS OUR U.S. MILITARY. OUR FELLOW AMERICANS.
OUR TEAM INCLUDES EACH & EVERY SOUL THAT I HAVE SPOKEN OF THIS AFTERNOON - FROM OUR SERVICEMEMBERS TO OUR VETERANS - TO OUR EX-PRISONERS OF WAR - TO OUR AMERICAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS BOUND TO WHEELCHAIRS, BLIND, DEAF, LIMBLESS, SICK, HOMELESS, JOBLESS, PENNYLESS - THE 22+ AMERICAN BROTHERS & SISTERS THAT WILL TAKE THEIR OWN LIVES TODAY - TO OUR ACTIVE DUTY SERVICEMEMBERS AND THOSE AMONG US SWEARING THE VERY OATH OF ENLISTMENT TODAY SOMEWHERE AS WE SPEAK.
>THE MISSION I SPEAK TO OF COURSE IS OUR FREEDOM.
LIFE. LIBERTY. PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. OUR LIVES AS WE KNOW THEM TODAY. AS WE EXPECT THEM TO BE TOMORROW.
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS IS THE ABILITY TO SEE CLEARLY. PERFECT VISION.
TO BEST SEE JUST WHERE WE ARE AT ANY GIVEN TIME - TO BEST SEE WHERE WE'RE GOING AT ANY GIVEN TIME - WE NEED TO SEE WHERE WE'VE BEEN. FROM WHERE WE'VE COME.
The Theme we bring forth this afternoon is one of interaction ahead. It is a call to action - a theme that is meant to extend well beyond the day - well beyond today - well beyond this wreath today. Many here this afternoon are already doing that. In fact, all of you being here this afternoon are already interacting. I, we, Rolling Thunder, sincerely Thank You All.
But the challenge that I bring forth today and place directly in your laps is one - not dictated by us, but as clearly evident of the times in many ways - as you look to your right, and to your left in the day-to-day, do those around you, understand interaction. Do the youth within our reach -the very future of our country and provider of our freedom to be - understand interaction...
The key to Interaction - is Situational Awareness - RESPECT....
AS WE LEAVE HERE THIS AFTERNOON - AND AS ROLLING THUNDER LEAVES WASHINGTON D.C. AFTER THIS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND - WE BEGIN A NEW CHAPTER IN OUR HISTORIES, OUR PERSONAL LIFE STORIES - AND WITHIN SUCH - COMES A RENEWED RESPONSIBILITY - COLLECTIVELY, INDIVIDUALLY.
AS WE LIVE ON - SHARING THE U.S. NAVAL MEMORIAL MISSION - WE MUST ALWAYS HONOR, RECOGNIZE, CELEBRATE & INFORM.
WE MUST ALWAYS RESPECT THOSE WHO HAVE PROVIDED, RESPECT THOSE WHO PROVIDE, RESPECT THOSE WHO WILL PROVIDE, THE VERY INK TO WRITE HISTORIES AND LIFE STORIES IN THE FIRST PLACE.
I invite you to forever more rise to the challenge for America, for her Patriot sons & daughters - to strive to be a steady friend to her rights - to render her the most essential service you can - in your own ways - as you can - when you can - where you can.
Truly I tell you that the Rolling Thunder Member will.
Truly I tell you that - as sure as the watchtower stands within the POW/MIA Symbol overlooking Our silhouette, Our "You" - So Too will Rolling Thunder always stand watch - with & for all Americans - with & for America, with & for the United States Military, [Her lost], Eternally...
As we close the ceremony today with the laying of the wreath - and as you hear TAPS - I invite you to remember that the very bugle call is meant as a signal - a signal dating back to the Civil War Era - to the very times of the origin of Memorial Day - then called Decoration Day - and meant as "The call which closes the soldiers day. Lights Out."
I THINK IF ABLE TO SPEAK - OUR LOST AMERICAN SOULS WOULD WHISPER TO US THAT-
AS SURE AS THE SUN WILL SET ON THIS DAY - NEVER BEFORE HAS RESPECT BEEN MORE NEEDED - NEEDED TO BE MORE SOUGHT AFTER - SHOWN AND SHARED.
THAT RESPECT [like their absence from this life]
IS - 24 hours a day High - 7 days a week Wide - 365 days a year long.
"YOU" Matters. Dutiful Regard...
Thank You All.
GOD BLESS AND GODSPEED...
~MM RTN Member