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Chairman: Families of Fallen Remain in Nation’s Hearts

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2015 – The families of the fallen are always in the hearts of the members of the U.S. armed forces, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said during a Memorial Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey spoke at the national cemetery’s amphitheater, along with President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

“We come together in this anointed place on this appointed date to honor our fallen warriors: those champions of freedom who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation,” the chairman said.

“I want you to know that you are always in our hearts,” he said the family members of the fallen. “We -- along with a grateful nation -- remain inspired by your strength and remarkable courage.”

Dempsey made special mention of the people he called “my teammates from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors,” whose family members and children were present as part of their annual “Good” Grief Camp. He spoke at the organization’s summit May 23, as he has throughout his tenure as Joint Chiefs chairman.

Advice for Fellow Citizens

The general noted that he’s often asked by how to appropriately honor the nation’s fallen warriors. “They wonder how they can best pay tribute to those laid to rest beneath our flag, so that we may stand freely beside it today,” he said. “I tell them simply to remember.”

The nation sets Memorial Day aside to remember how the fallen stood with courage and to memorialize their devotion to America and its principles, the general noted. “But the sun will set on this day and disappear behind the foothills of Virginia,” he added. “In the morning, when it rises over the Potomac, what then? What should we do?”

“Remember,” he said.

Thoughts for the Families

As people resume their life’s daily routines tomorrow, Dempsey asked them to take a moment to think of the families who will return home and leave their loved one in a sacred place such as Arlington National Cemetery.

“Think of the families of those brave souls in cemeteries at home and abroad, in unmarked graves on distant battlefields, and in the tranquil blue seas,” he said. “Think of the empty chair at their dinner table and the one less voice of laughter in their house.”

And when next week arrives, he asked, and next month – what should the nation’s people do?

“Remember,” Dempsey said.

Flag Serves as Reminder

When Americans see the U.S. flag waving over their child’s school, at the local shopping center, or in front of a neighbor’s home, Dempsey said, they should take a moment to consider the men and women who gave their lives for the principles that make America great.

“Upon seeing a Purple Heart license plate or hearing the national anthem at a sporting event, take a moment to think of those who did not survive their wounds,” the chairman said, “[and those] who did not return home, who can never again salute the flag or share in the freedoms we experience each and every day.”

Remembering: A Daily Ritual

The acts of remembrance are the daily rituals of reflection handed down to citizens by families of the fallen for generations, the general emphasized.

“Remembrance, like love and trust, only truly exists in our actions,” he said. “It’s not a place we visit, or a simple sentiment. Rather, it’s a debt of gratitude that shapes the ways we live our lives.

“And a year from today, on the last Monday of May,” he continued, “we will reconvene on this hallowed ground to reaffirm our promise to always remember.”

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)

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Biographies:
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey

Related Sites:
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
Special Report: Memorial Day 2015

Related Articles:
Chairman Welcomes Tragedy Survivors to Annual Summit



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