Radio Address: Johnson honors, mourns war dead for Memorial Day

Posted: May 27, 2016 | Senator Johnson, Weekly Radio Address

For hard-working people all over the state, a three-day weekend is always welcome. Memorial Day weekend is especially beloved for marking the unofficial “beginning of summer.”

But as we look forward to long days and warm nights, let’s not forget the true meaning of Monday’s holiday.

Hi, this is State Senator Chris Johnson. Thanks for tuning in.

Since our nation’s founding, more than 1.3 million Americans have lost their lives to war. On the last Monday in May, we remember those brave men and women of the Armed Services who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

Observance of Memorial Day is a more than century-old tradition here in the United States. But the practice of honoring the war dead is as old as civilization itself. In Ancient Greece, the Athenian general and statesman Pericles delivered a eulogy praising the valor and sacrifice of his soldiers killed in the Peloponnesian war.

Pericles knew, as we do, that there is special honor reserved for those who give up their lives in service of their country.

While we honor their sacrifice, we do not do so gladly. It is humanity’s greatest flaw that we continue to wage war on our fellow man; That we are not always capable of resolving our differences peaceably.

That is why Memorial Day is not a day of celebration. We pay tribute to our war dead. We honor their sacrifice and heroism. We thank their families and loved ones. But we also mourn. We sorrow for the lives cut short as mankind struggles to find its way toward a world without war.

Here in Maine, we have a proud history of military service, and of honoring the men and women of the armed forces.

Ours is the history of Joshua Chamberlain and The 20th Maine, who won the decisive victory for freedom at Gettysburg.

Ours is the history of Morrill Worcester, who founded Wreaths Across America, and donates thousands of Maine-made wreaths to honor the fallen each year at Arlington National Cemetery.

Ours is the history of the Bangor Troop Greeters, those veterans and other patriots who ensure every serviceman and woman receives a warm welcome when touching down on American Soil for the first time at Bangor International Airport.

In towns all across our state this weekend, we’ll march in parades. We’ll lay wreaths. And we’ll commemorate our war heroes who never came home. May they rest in peace.

This is State Senator Chris Johnson. Thank you for listening.