Memorial Day speaker implores citizens to strive for liberty
Patriotic speeches and songs are not enough to honor America's war veterans, said the keynote speaker at Monday's Memorial Day observance in Missoula.
"Our words are real," retired Air Force Col. Sam Roberts told a crowd of about 200 gathered on the lawn of the Missoula County Courthouse. "But we must go another step and prove ourselves in action as well as words."
Cooperation of business and government, Roberts said, is needed to keep this a nation of the people, by the people and for the people. As citizens, he said, we must work to uphold the Constitution, stay in touch with our government officials, and strive to remain informed of world and community events.
Memorial Day is a time to remember not only those who died in the service of our country, but those who were willing to die for our freedom, Roberts said.
"If their voices from the grave could reach us now," he said, "they might say, 'Whether you keep or break faith with us will depend on what you do. We have faith in you as you once had faith in us.' "
"Freedom is not free," Roberts added. "Our debt to them can only be paid by fulfilling the dreams for which they fought. Our actions are even more important now, as examples of patriotism and responsible citizenship seem to be fewer and fewer."
The Memorial Day celebration at the courthouse concluded with the laying of a wreath at the statue of the World War I American doughboy soldier, accompanied by a VFW honor guard's 21-gun salute and the playing of "Taps."
The courthouse observance was one of several Memorial Day activities held in Missoula.
Earlier in the morning, the Navy Mothers Organization tossed a wreath into the Clark Fork River at the Van Buren Street footbridge in memory of those who died in naval combat.
After the courthouse activities, a bus sponsored by the United Veterans Council took an honor guard to conduct memorial ceremonies at each Missoula cemetery.
In the afternoon, U.S. Ambassador Mark Johnson gave a talk on "A Diplomat in the Persian Gulf" at the Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History at Fort Missoula, which opened a special exhibit of Montana's Medal of Honor recipients.
Roberts wrapped up his speech by saying: "The most important word is love. There is a memorial in Scotland that says, 'There will be no peace until the power of love is greater than the love of power.' "
Tuesday - 6/1/99