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As many depart on Memorial Day travel and vacation, I would like all Americans to join with me in recognizing that this holiday is not about hot dogs and barbeques - nor is it about the start of the traditional summer season. It's not about celebratory parades full of politicians who never served in the military - in fact it is not even a celebration. It certainly is not about politics or elections. This is why I declined several invitations to march in Memorial Day Parades and speak at Memorial Day events. I am a candidate for political office, and I believe that it would be inappropriate to politicize today in any way.

In October of 1983, my Naval Academy roommate, First Lieutenant David Nairn, USMC, was killed in Beirut Lebanon when the Marine barracks were destroyed. We had just spent the day before together, and then, while I watched, the headquarters building was leveled in one of the first horrific acts of international terrorism - killing Dave and over 200 other Marines. There are no monuments in Beirut to him or his comrades, but we must recognize them. The measure of their sacrifice was not the validity of the mission that they were on, but rather the dedication that they brought to that mission. True then and true today.

As a Navy veteran, I remember the first time that I visited the USS Arizona, still in commission - left where she lay following the attacks of December 7th, 1941 . I remember the losses throughout the Pacific and the Atlantic , the Mekong Delta and the Persian Gulf . These all have a real, almost tangible feel to them. Equally important are those who did not return home from the Revolutionary War, the heroes of the USS Chesapeake, the Constitution, and the Navy that emerged to defend our shores. The horrific losses of the Civil War - on both sides - the frightful casualties of WWI and the seemingly countless, often futile, actions around the globe. The long and storied history of our military, and the incredible sacrifices made by those who manned the ships, marched in Europe, landed on the beaches, and fought in the skies, fill volumes in libraries around our country. On Memorial Day it is fitting and proper, it is just and necessary, that all Americans pause to salute those whose sacrifices allow us to complain about the price of gas, to debate the issues of the day, and to fire up the grill with friends and family.

Let us today dedicate ourselves to their memory, and the memory of all who have worn the uniform, and whose lives were cut short in a moment of sacrifice for those of us who were left to enjoy the fruits of liberty and prosperity. Join with me in prayer and remembrance as you enjoy the opportunity to travel and spend the weekend with family .

God Bless the families of those who have not returned, and may our leaders demonstrate true leadership in honoring our fallen through the wisdom of their actions now and in the future.

Eric Massa
Commander US Navy (ret.)
Congressional Candidate, NY-29

Originally posted to Eric Massa on Mon May 26, 2008 at 06:38 AM PDT.

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