Memorial Day Message from Brookfield President Kit Ketchmark

Please find the video of today’s ceremony here.

Good morning.

Thank you Commander Lada. Thank you to members of the VFW, Amvets and American Legion. And thank you to the to all of those who have served and are currently serving in our military. We owe you a debt of gratitude.

We stand here today, under very different circumstances than in past years, and in many ways, under the some of the most challenging circumstances we as a community and as a society have ever faced. The past 12 weeks have brought us levels of uncertainty that we could not have imagined just a short time ago. Simple things like getting a hair cut, going out to dinner, or enjoying the company of friends have been put on hold.

Today, however, we need to set aside our own challenges, and embrace the essential task of passing on an important message to all of our friends, family, neighbors, and future generations about what today, Memorial Day, is REALLY about. This weekend typically starts the bbq season, summer vacation trips, or is a day off work for many. But none of that has anything to do with what today is all about…but, rather, is a result of what today is all about.

Today, I ask each and every one of you to take pause during your day to pay tribute to those who have died while protecting our country and defending our liberties. Today we commemorate those who paid the ultimate price in serving our country…the sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors.

We run the risk of forgetting the purpose of those who served and the sacrifices they made unless we make the conscious effort to continue to remember them, and to continue to pass this on from generation to generation. As a community, we run the risk of forgetting what happened in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World Wars 1 and 2, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Cold War, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and numerous other conflicts. The Korean War is still a smoldering fire nearly 70 after many thought it ended. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from our past, and understanding that past can help us with our future challenges, whatever they may be.

In our community we have several veteran’s memorials…the WWI Cannon Memorial, the F-86 Jet Korean War Memorial, Veterans Memorial Fountain, and Veterans Park. This past Friday, a new memorial was installed here in Veterans Park, The Killed in Action Memorial. Nearly 1.3 million men and woman have been killed in military action defending our country. And while we will have a future, in-person dedication, let this memorial stand testament today to those who ultimately gave all. Thank you to Village Trustee Ed Cote, Commander Lada, and members of the VFW for your efforts in bringing this memorial here.

As generations change, times change. Our national conversation changes over time…who would have envisioned the topics of whether or not to stand for the national anthem, or whether or not our flag, the flag of the United States of America, still has meaning. Who could have envisioned how polarizing these topics could be for some.

We hear and read a lot in the news about those who protest for various causes or make statements proclaiming their rights. Some want more rights or greater pay. Some want less police, some want more police. Some want more government help, others want less government intervention.

Some believe they are entitled or deserving. But our country was not built by believing we were entitled. Simply demanding rights does not lead to us as a society in having those rights. The rights we claim as ours today were earned on battle fields across the world for the past 244 years. Remember there were those whose last day was spent on our behalves with mortars flying overhead…and that would be the last day they would wake up.

Every morning when you wake up, realize that we as a country are able to say things, and believe things, due to those have defended our rights throughout the existence of the United States of America. Now, maybe more than ever, we have to find a way to stay together. There will always be differences and disagreements. But we have to unite for the common good.

We cannot forget the countless flag-bearers that have led us into battle defending our liberties. Those same flag-bearers are the ones who have fought for the very right we all have to question and to protest, and many did not return home to enjoy the freedoms they fought so very hard for. Today is their day.

Since our country was founded over 244 years ago, there has always been those who have come forward with pride to defend our freedoms….and in doing so, some gave all. A folded flag should not need to come home for us to salute those who have served and paid the ultimate price. From world wars to cold wars to wars on terror, we stand here to pay tribute to the bravest in our community, the men and women who gave sacrificed all on our behalves. And though it is nowhere near enough, a heartfelt thank you to the families and loved ones of those who have paid the ultimate price.

Today is far more than the last Monday in May, or the unofficial kick off to summer.

Today is Memorial Day.

Thank you.