Ely’s 2019 Memorial Day speech by James Kuehl

Giving the Memorial Day speech was Commander James Kuehl.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is James Kuehl. I was born and raised in Ely and graduated from Ely Memorial High School a long time ago. I have had the honor and privilege to serve in the United States Navy for just over 20 years.
I am truly humbled to be with you today as we gather to celebrate, remember and pay our respects to those who went before us. I would like to start off by saying a Special Thanks to the Ely honor guard. Your continued service to the people of the greater Ely area does not go unnoticed. Thank you for all you do for the community, the veterans and their families.
Memorial Day is typically the day we use to kick start the summer. It’s the weekend we spend getting all the summer toys out of storage, make sure the boat is ready for another year, inspect all the fishing and camping gear and bust out the BBQ grill for some good summer fun…. Ya Right! Hey, it was 80 degrees in Chicago when I wrote this speech. I think Old Man Winter still had a pretty firm grip on the weather around here…. It’s intent and true meaning go much deeper. Memorial Day is a Federal Holiday, a day dedicated to the remembrance of those who have died in military service for the United States of America.……Those who served when their nation called and those who gave their life and made the ultimate sacrifice. Heroes by the very definition.
Today we honor those Heroes by remembering. Remembering what they believed in. Remembering what they stood for. Remembering what they fought for. Remembering what they ultimately died for.
They Believed in:
WORDS like-honor, courage, commitment, duty, service, and country
They Believed in:
IDEALS like justice, integrity, loyalty, hard work, dedication, unselfishness and perhaps most importantly, Freedom.
They believed in Freedom and knew it’s not a gift. It has to be earned and requires one to bare an even greater burden when it comes time to defend it. Yes, they knew that freedom is not free. Yet the heroes we honor here today answered their nation’s call when freedom was on the line. They gave their lives so the rest of us can still, to this day, enjoy freedom. These heroes stood up and defended freedom knowing full well their lives were on the line. They made that sacrifice for us.
They also stood for the values on which this country was founded. Values like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They stood to protect those values and they stood to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves. Years ago, it went without saying, but, for the benefit of the younger generations in the crowd, they stood for the national anthem and old glory. Our heroes stood the watch, stood the duty until it was time to fight.
Then they fought.
Our heroes fought for a greater cause, for a nation who needed their defense. They fought against evil forces that wanted to do harm to innocent people. They fought to protect democracy and the democratic republic that is the foundation of our great nation. They fought to ensure their kids, our kids and generations yet to come will still be able to enjoy the precious liberties we have today. They fought for the person next to them, never wanting to let their teammates down. They fought for FREEDOM.
And freedom is what they eventually died for. It is now our burden, our responsibility; we have to reach deep inside ourselves to make certain these heroes did not die in vain. It is now up to us to carry the torch of freedom and pass it on to future generations. The best way to accomplish this monumental task is to simply never forget……
They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. I challenge each and every one of you to imitate and emulate those who we honor here today. Right now, let us make a vow to our dead. Let’s show them by our actions that we remember what they died for. Stand and respect the National Anthem, Honor the American Flag, work hard, be honest, and above all, treat each other with kindness and respect…..because WE ARE AMERICANS.
I know this sounds like a tall order and we may falter and stumble along the way. When we do, we must remember our heroes. May we all be strengthened by their actions, hardened by their courage and lifted by their spirits, so we may fulfill the ideals they found so right and just that they gave their lives.
Thank you. God Bless you and God Bless the United States of America.