My father, Reese Norman Lemmen, was a member of what is called "The Greatest Generation". He served with the 79th Infantry Division in Europe during World War Two. As a platoon sergeant he was responsible for his men and knew each of them well, having trained with them for over two years when they went ashore in Normandy a few days after D-Day.
He and his men were involved in heavy fighting outside Cherbourg, in the deadly hedgerows. Fully 85% of his platoon were causalities during the period of just a couple of weeks, either wounded (as my father was) or killed.
My father never forgot his friends that were killed during the war. Reticent, as were many combat vets, he rarely spoke about the war except when he had numbed himself with enough alcohol to numb his survivors guilt.
These honorable dead are the ones we honor today, those men who gave their lives in defense of our freedom, you put their very lives on the line to overcome totalitarianism, to stand forth as defenders of mans endowed rights.
Having passed in June of 1974, my father rejoined his platoon, once again among his friends of long ago, the friends of his young adulthood, his comrades in arms. Be at peace my father, rest quietly knowing that your sacrifice and the sacrifice of your men was not in vain. You shall soon have a full roll call as the vicissitudes of time snatch the few remaining men of that "Greatest Generation".