Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Honor Service and Sacrifice

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Honor Service and Sacrifice

Article excerpt

This weekend, as the nation prepares to celebrate our Independence Day, it is worthwhile to remind ourselves how this country was born and built into the "Greatest Nation on Earth." Beyond our resources, our geography and our climate, it is our people who sacrifice through service who represent the strength of America.

Not many people know this about me, but once a month, I try to visit the wounded military personnel being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. These are primarily the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are injured, some gravely, in the fight against violent jihadist extremists across the globe.

The visits are low-key, made without publicity and fanfare. Until now, the only people who knew I called on these patients were the leaders of some New Jersey veterans groups and the constituents from back home who I just happen to run into while I am there. I refer to members of groups such as the Slattery Detachment of the Marine Corps League from Whippany, who have been making regular visits for well over a decade.

These visits are a priority for me because they allow me to support and listen to those who have sacrificed so much for their country and to provide whatever assistance I can to their families. After all, in many important ways, their loved ones serve, too! There is no "brass" present, so their stories and requests are quite open and candid.

Indeed, on my way to Bethesda, I drive up the George Washington Memorial Parkway along the Potomac River, past the rows and rows of headstones belonging to the fallen at Arlington National Cemetery. Nearly 7,000 service members have given their lives for this country in Iraq and Afghanistan alone. Many are buried in Arlington's Section 60. Other than these men and women who have given their lives for our country, the patients at Walter Reed are the epitome of service and sacrifice.

America is a nation built on sacrifice. From the Founding Fathers, who in the Declaration of Independence concluded our founding document by pledging "...our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor," to those soldiers who are confronting the current threats today, Americans have stood together in the fight for freedom and to strengthen our democracy.

The men and women of our Armed Forces now are members of well-disciplined units. But at their core, they are still and forever free individuals, from all walks of life, sections of our country and ethnic backgrounds. They are truck drivers, students, farmers and workers, businessmen and women, entrepreneurs, artists, clerks, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. They are the United States of America. And they do us proud every day!

But not all of us have the opportunity to fight the enemies of America in distant parts of the world. …

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