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Gen. Dempsey's Remarks at the Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony

By General Martin E. Dempsey

GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY: Mr. President, Secretary Hagel, Secretary Shinseki, members of Congress, distinguished guests, Veterans, fellow Americans, and most especially, families of our missing and fallen warriors, good morning and welcome.

Every day, but especially on Memorial Day, Arlington’s gentle, rolling hills remind us that on this hallowed ground so much history and so much valor rests. 

Looking out on these gleaming, white headstones, I’m reminded of a seldom sung stanza of our national ballad, “America the Beautiful.” 

“O beautiful for patriot dreams
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!”

Here at Arlington in our own alabaster city, and in other national cemeteries around the world, we honor the patriot dreams of America’s sons and daughters, those who were willing to fight in every clime and every place, who were willing to risk and give their lives for our Nation’s ideals.

Here, we remember, we grieve, but we are also inspired …

Because here, we celebrate the timeless strength of America, undimmed by human tears.  We know that we are a better nation for the sacrifice of the men and women who’ve served.

Memorial Day gives us, the living, the chance to bow our heads to honor our fallen heroes.  We remember their devotion.  We respect their dedication to our national purpose, to secure the blessings of liberty. 

It is the responsibility of a grateful nation to look back. 

It is incumbent on us to also look forward. 

America’s sons and daughters are out there still today on the frontiers of our common defense.  They’re in Afghanistan and on mountains and plains around the world, they’re across the shining seas … and they’re in the spacious skies. 

In the footsteps of generations before, they’ll marshal the day with courage and with commitment to make a difference for each other, for us, and for people they’ve never met, but who share in the dream of a better future. 

I’m inspired each and every day by our men and women in uniform, by their sense of purpose and their character.  They represent the best of this great country.

Let us use this Memorial Day to remember all who have served and serve still, and to show that America will always stand firmly with those who stand up for her. 

Let us renew and rededicate ourselves to the ideals of our Nation, its freedom, its responsibility, its patriot dreams, undimmed by human tears.

May God shed His grace on our fallen, our missing, our veterans, and their families.