A week marked by information, celebration and remembrance. The Georgia Tea Party hosted Ron Sifen who is one of the most knowledgeable individuals on transportation issues in Cobb County. The Lockheed Martin Retirees Assn invited me to give my presentation on the Federal Budget. The Law Enforcement Memorial Service and Candlelight Vigil organized by the Kermit C. Sanders Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police on the Marietta Square was moving tribute to our police officers who died in the line of duty. Finally, Memorial Day with its national observances for those who gave all so that we the living might do so in freedom. These events all demonstrate the vibrancy of America and the involvement of people who work to make us the greatest nation on earth.
The maxim “There but for the grace of God” frequently comes to mind when we escape some predicament or calamity because of a fortunate turn of events. After all, grace is a freely given and unmerited gift from God.
If the IED with the copper warhead had struck my HMMV 12 inches higher, then my worldly journey would have ended in Iraq in 2007. Grace? For sure.
But what about those who fell in battle? What about their need for grace on the day that they gave their “full measure of devotion?” More importantly, did their sacrifice mean anything?
For those who have served in uniform, the answer is an intuitive yes. On a personal level, to have not let your buddy down is more than sufficient to justify any sacrifice and a grace freely given.
But wars are fought on a national scale and sometimes it is difficult to recognize how individual valor regardless of its magnitude translates into a blow for the larger cause of freedom.
During a two week tour of faith-based programs in Romania, I was asked one Sunday to give the message at a local church. Sitting in front, I scanned the many faces of the elders of the congregation. During their nearly 50 years under Nazi and Communist tyranny, they were the saints who had kept the faith alive despite persecution and martyrdom. They were soldiers in their own right, yet without uniforms or any weapons other than their faith.
I remembered the words of a local grandfather who told me he knew the Americans would always come. With those few words he validated all the efforts of those men and women in uniform who manned their posts.
Whether they chased Soviet submarines in the North Atlantic or the broad Pacific; endured the harsh weather during to deployments ranging from Korea to Germany; fought in Vietnam, the Caribbean and Central America; or stood alert in missile fields and on air bases, they were the sentinels of freedom. People were watching and given heart by all these American warriors who came to see very quickly that the Cold War was cold in name only.
As I stood at the podium in Romania, I spoke for all of us who fought and defeated the Communists: We came as fast as we could.
Shortly before Ronald Reagan joined the Army at the start of World War II, he wrote in a magazine “that along with a few million other guys I feel pretty strong about my country. As for believing what you are doing is important — well, if fighting to preserve the United States … isn’t important, you name it.”
More than 70 years later, his words still ring true for those who fight for America … and die for her. If anything, our armed forces today not only shoulder the responsibility of protecting our nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic, but also of representing the beacon of freedom. For if not us, America, then who will carry this torch?
This Memorial Day, the headstones, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, challenge “us the living (to dedicate ourselves) to the great task remaining before us — that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain.”
Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who led the military effort after Hurricane Katrina, perhaps said it best for our times: “To be born free is an accident; to die free is a privilege; to live free is a responsibility.”
By their valor of serving and in many cases dying for our country, each of our honored dead gave us the gift of grace — a gift that was both freely given and unmerited. We should accord it with the dignity and reverence that it was given and, above all, not take it for granted.
Mike Boyce of east Cobb is a retired U.S. Marine colonel.
Commissioner Bob Ott Town Hall, meetings with the East Cobb Kiwanis, and greeting the troops at the Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson Airport were just some of the events that I attended this week in my continuing outreach to voters in Cobb County. Topping the week was being part of my Marine Corps League Detachment’s recognition of two young men who represent the future of our country. One was a Boy Scout who had attained the rank of Eagle Scout—an accomplishment that only 4% of all Boy Scouts achieve. The second recognition was the awarding of a $2000 scholarship to a high school graduate whose personal story included high academic achievement and countless hours as a volunteer despite the loss of his parents at young age. As I have said many times, veterans continue to serve even after they leave the service. It’s in their DNA.
This coming weekend is Memorial Day when we should take the time to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I have included under the Articles tab an article that was printed previously in the Marietta Daily Journal. The words are just as timely today. May all our heroes rest in peace and their families take comfort in knowing that the lives of the loved ones for whom they grieve still have meaning.
I toured redevelopment projects in Boise, Idaho and Las Vegas, Nevada. Similar to my time in Greenville, South Carolina, 3 weeks ago, these latest visits are part of my continuing research into the strategies, plans and accomplishments of U.S. cities that are successfully redeveloping.
Combined with 3 other visits to projects in Los Angeles and Oakland, California, I have a much better idea of what works and what doesn’t work in urban development. Each is unique. Some are public-private partnerships and some are private investments. All involved some risk by the cities and developers regardless of their public or private nature.
Without exception each project was led by a visionary leader. I was very impressed and grateful for the openness and time that public officials, business people, and ordinary folks on the street gave me to tell me about their cities and projects.
We truly live in a wonderful country. Having said that, it’s good to be home in Cobb County.
The pictures of my travels this week’s reflect the true diversity of Cobb County. Old and young, city and small town, people with different backgrounds; they were all on full display. I was either part of the project, there to learn more, honor civic servants, or meet new voters. It was just a great week to be out and about talking with people in Cobb.
If you would like me to visit your group or attend an event, drop us a line under the Contact Info tab. I would look forward to seeing you there.