Memorial Day is a special time as we recognize those military men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice with the loss of their lives in defense of our freedoms. I think in particular of the nearly 60,000 fellow American soldiers of mine who did not return home with us. May their souls rest in peace.
As we remember our fallen veterans this Memorial Day weekend, I want to share with you a moving story from my fellow veteran John Szczepanski who was a leader in our Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program during the Reagan Administration. John recounts his reunion 30 years later with the family of a fellow American soldier who died beside him during the war:
"On December 25, 1968, Mark Kenneth Bryant was killed in Vietnam. I was next to him at his death. About 30 years later I met his mother Ruth and the woman Donna who was his fiancé at the time. I heard the story of his father's life after the death of his son and his brother Don's life after the death of his fiancé and his mother's life after the death of her son, Mark Kenneth. Their individual lives and the relationships became a longing of broken hearted people for a loved one. Mrs. Bryant asked me one question, 'was my son a good soldier?' Yes, Mrs. Bryant, he was."
On this Memorial Day weekend, let us remember our fallen soldiers (and their families) who gave their lives in defense of our country and never returned.