Memorial Day – 2022

Memorial Day – Monday, May 30, 2022. David Jelin, Commander, The American Legion Price Post 3

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, was a date set aside to remember those who died in combat in the War between the States. On May 28th, 1868, in what is now known as Arlington National Cemetery, some 5,000 people decorated the 20,000 graves of the men from the armies of the North and South.

Much earlier, the earliest settlers to distance themselves from what they left behind, from what they fled in Europe and elsewhere, sought what was to become America, and strived to survive; few returned to the old countries. These peoples had expected this land to be different, challenging, but without tyrannical governments, and with freedom to prosper.

Settlers did not look to recreate the conflicts from the old lands; they sought a better life, opportunities of peace, and keeping what they made or earned. Yes, there were battles and wars with major powers; England, France, Spain, and even Indians, and those armed by those major powers to fight each other and the settlers from each other’s countries.

Later, in 1776, a nation arose from a Declaration of Independence, three percent of those colonials fought for and won independence from a tyrannical king.  Today, far too many don’t stop to recognize these sacrifices of self, family, and future.  Many in this community and across the nation have stopped celebrating Independence Day.  For one reason or another, far too many have forgotten that America is where people fled to.

Because of those willing to sacrifice, we have a home to enjoy our freedoms, freedoms established in 1788 with the Constitution, then the Bill of Rights, and subsequent Amendments allow us to live free lives.  Granted, it is not perfect, but what we have is a far greater treasure of freedoms than anywhere else on the planet; freedoms to associate, speak, disagree, move about, and many more.  The United States of America remains a nation people flee to.

President Abraham Lincoln, at Gettysburg, November 19, 1863, stated in part “We have come to dedicate a…final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.  But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract…It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Today has been set aside to honor, to remember with gratitude, all those who sacrificed their lives in service to preserve our nation.  They died believing their sacrifices, the ultimate human cost, was to secure the lives of their families and our way of life.

Today, Memorial Day, we gather to remember, we honor all the men and women who died in or from combat, who died in service to our nation.  Their sacrifices are a debt that will not, that cannot ever be repaid nor, should ever be forgotten.  

This Memorial Day, I urge all of you to remember with gratefulness all the fallen sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members who have so bravely served our country.  Remember also, and thank, the families of the fallen, Gold Star families, for only they directly suffered the losses.

This is not a “happy” day, not of celebration, nor for sales.  There is nothing “happy” about the loss of lives defending a nation and the lost opportunities of those killed, and their families left behind; for them, every day is Memorial Day.

We remember, we must remember and honor those who stepped up, signed that infamous dotted line and served, many of whom died so we could live as free people, a free nation, a people free of tyranny and oppression.  We honor those brave men and women who fought and died to defend us, putting the greater good of freedom and nation above self. 

Without us to remember and honor them and their service, they’ll fade from memory and history, and we, personally and as a nation, without proper gratitude, will become far less for it.

Today, we have WWII veterans in our midst, as well as veterans from the Korean and Vietnam wars, the Cold War, and today’s global war on terrorism, and all the conflicts in between.  Please take a moment to say “thank you” for their service; for they too committed themselves to our freedoms.  To all those who served, I thank you, and welcome you home.

Today, every day, we must remember they stood the line, fought for us, many fell for us.    And now, with one accord, in deepest reverence, I hope we do them honor.  

This is not a funeral, but a ceremony to honor the fallen.  We will fire a three-volley salute in memory and honor of those who died in combat, those counted as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action but presumed dead, those who died while in uniform, and for those who have passed since their service. 

May today – may every day – be filled with peace, thankfulness, and memories of all who died in service to our nation, for our lives to be free.

David Jelin, Veteran, Commander, The American Legion Price Post 3, Commander ©

Read during Memorial Day Ceremonies at Helper Mt View, Price City, Price Cliffview, Wellington, East Carbon & Sunnyside, and Elgin Green River Cemeteries on May 30, 202.

Please contact The American Legion Price Post 3 for permissions at: veterans@americanlegionpost3.org.

Speech Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks and the Commitment of Americans, First Responders, and Service Members.

 Today we commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks of 9/11/2001; A Day to Remember those innocents killed, to Honor those who responded, of whom many died, and to Recognize all those who’ve raised their hand that day and since to serve and defend this nation. 

Angela Murray has been quite kind once again to render our National Anthem. 

First, to all service members and veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq: Thank you for your service, your sacrifices at home and abroad. This past month we’ve witnessed, seemingly, far more turmoil and grief, given the collapse there. Especially, especially with memories of the loss of family and friends over the past 20, yes, 20 years. Your service shall not be forgotten. 

Thank you for joining us today, 20 years after the terrorist attacks that shook our nation and united our nation. I am the Acting Commander of The American Legion Price Post, your host for today. 

Today, we’re honored to be joined by you, my fellow veterans, fire fighters, police chiefs and officers, sheriff and deputies, medical responders and providers, local city, county, and state government representatives. 

The first aircraft might have been a terrible accident, perhaps even crew suicide, then a second aircraft struck Tower Two and quickly brought to focus these crashes were deliberate actions of terrorist-state actors attacking innocent targets. It took a short time to learn terrorists controlled the aircraft with passengers aboard, and not by remote control. 

While air traffic controllers across the country were beginning to get aircraft on the ground as soon as possible, the third passenger airliner crashed into the 16-foot-thick walls of the Pentagon. 

Though some families already knew, the rest of us learned a bit later of the fourth passenger aircraft crashing into a Pennsylvania farm field. 

On this date 20-years ago: 

American Airlines Flight 11 departed Boston for Los Angeles with 81 passengers and 11 crew, was hi-jacked then flown into the North Tower, Tower One of the World Trade Center at 8:46am. 

United Airlines Flight 175 also departed Boston for Los Angeles with 51 passengers and 9 crew, was hi-jacked then flown into the South Tower, Tower Two of the World Trade Center at 9:05am.

 American Airlines Flight 77 departed Dulles for Los Angeles was hi-jacked, then flown into the Pentagon at 9:39am. There were 53 passengers and 6 crew aboard killed instantly; 125 military personnel at the Pentagon were killed, too. 

United Airlines Flight 93 was hi-jacked after it departed Newark for San Francisco with 53 passengers and 5 crew. However, Flight 93’s passengers learned from family and friends of the first three hi-jackings and crashes. The passengers were determined to avoid a crash into another civilian target, passengers fought their way into the cockpit, and fought for control; then crashed into a field near Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania, at 10:03am. 

These are ones we Remember, we Remember the innocent lives lost during the attacks. 

Between the two jets and the two towers, 2,763 innocents, 343 firefighters and emergency medical personnel, 23 New York police officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers died in the buildings’ collapse following the impacts and fires of jetliners each with enough fuel to cross the country plus reserves. 

These 403 first responders sacrificed their lives striving to evacuate those trapped, no one on the ground expected the buildings to collapse as they did. Over 400 more have died of illnesses from the fires. 

These are the ones we Honor, we Honor their sacrifice for running into the chaos, into the danger to rescue others. 

It took quite some time, seemingly, far too much time to learn the attacks were conducted by foreigners following domestically provided flight training; these state sponsored Wahhabi Islamists were members of al-Qaeda. 

During the subsequent and publicly forced congressional inquiry, a report released July 22, 2004, cited the dire need for the overhaul of the 15 disparate, competitive and uncooperative US intelligence agencies. With the recent collapse in Afghanistan, we see nothing has improved. 

We as a country were seemingly targeted for our freedom and politics. Before our nation’s first efforts to strike back, we became united as a nation that horrific day 20-years ago, but only for a short time afterwards. 

For far beyond the trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ monies, is the real, the true cost of battles borne. The human cost; losses of life, limbs, physical and mental harms from injuries and trauma. And worse, the loss of family members, friends and comrades who’ve committed suicide at home and overseas. 

In the past 20 years, this nation has suffered and lost over 7,000 men and women in the war on terror. Over 5,460 who were killed in combat; over 53,280 men and women were injured in action, and many more injured in training, transportation, and non-combat activities. 

These numbers, though stark, do not represent the individual lives lost to surviving family members, Gold Star families, and friends. 

These are the ones we Remember, Honor, and Recognize for having been in one uniform or another this date 20-years ago and those, having seen these attacks, raised their right hand that day or any day since, vowing to defend this nation, and serve this nation as assigned; as every service member and veteran has done after signing that infamous blank check. 

A worse loss are those service members and veterans who’ve survived but committed suicide in theatres overseas and here at home at the rate of over 22 individuals per day. Some committed suicide over the guilt of survival, some did over the loss of family, friends, and comrades, and some did so over the injuries, treatment of injuries or worse, over the lack of treatment for physical injuries and trauma. 

Let me pause with this, from Medal of Honor recipient, Kyle Carpenter, Marine, Operation Enduring Freedom. 

Quote, “It is particularly difficult for American veterans of the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as our Iraq war vets. The visceral scenes as that nation fell are disruptive reminders for those who are living with injuries from that conflict, injuries seen and unseen. Even more so for the families of the 2,448 American military warriors who died in Afghanistan.” 

I will add to Kyle’s statement, there are Vietnam War Veterans watching these evacuations, the only difference between the fall of Saigon and Kabul is the country and the airframe. 

Yesterday, September 10th, our community participated in a nationwide Suicide Awareness campaign hosted by the local hope squad. If not them, service members and veterans need to reach out to the scores of fellow veterans, for conversation, venting, help, aid, or just joined for a cup of coffee. Veterans have served our nation, saved our nation, by committing themselves in service, with honor and dignity. 

IF you need someone, if you need to talk, to vent, call a buddy, call a crisis line, but do not go this route alone, you are not alone in grief. The VA released a statement last week highlighting a 98% increase of calls from August 14th-29th, 98%. Please reach out, even if not in crisis. 

I’m honored to introduce the next three speakers. 

Christine Watkins, Representative, Utah District 69. 

Fire Chief Fitzgerald Peterson. 

Sheriff Jeff Wood. 

The honor guard will fire a three-volley salute to honor those killed this date 20 years ago, those killed in action, those who’ve succumbed to injuries, and those who did not receive the assurance their lives mattered. 

Sergeant-at-Arms, fire a three volley salute. 

Bugler, sound taps. 

I thank you, all of you here, for joining me today, this day to Remember, Honor, and Recognize. 

Take care and be safe. 

Veterans and Family Access to Federal Lands

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced at the Iowa Gold Star Museum that Gold Star Families and U.S. military veterans will be granted free access to national parks, wildlife refuges and other Federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior starting on Veterans Day (Nov. 11) this year and every day onward.

Entrance fees for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation sites will be waived for veterans and Gold Star Families. They will have free access to approximately 2,000 public locations spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands, which host activities to fit any lifestyle, from serene to high octane, including hiking, fishing, paddling, biking, hunting, stargazing and climbing.

“Our veterans and Gold Star Families have made incredible sacrifices to defend our freedoms and our homeland. Ensuring that they are able to enjoy all of the natural wonders of the country that they’ve served is one small way of saying thank you,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (IA). “I’m glad to join Secretary Bernhardt here in Iowa today at the Gold Star Military Museum for this historic announcement.”

Please see link: https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/trump-administration-grants-gold-star-families-and-military-veterans-free-entrance#:~:text=Bernhardt%20announced%20at%20the%20Iowa,year%20and%20every%20day%20onward.