Memorial Day speech given by Peter Decato on May 25, 2015

This speech was given in Colburn Park, by Attorney Decato, Monday – May 25th, 2015.

He wanted to share his remarks with you.

Today, we remember – as we should – our fallen heroes. We remember the men and women who answered the call, who ventured into foreign lands to protect our interests and our way of life – but failed to come home to us – at least in living form. Each of these soldiers were once amongst us, hoping as we do now – to live long and fulfilling lives.

These were some of the best amongst us – the bravest of the brave; the most courageous of those who showed courage. They are not here today in body, but their spirits are here – of that I feel certain.

These spirits were with those who marched in our parade. And I believe their spirits are with us now as we praise their sacrifice and honor their memory. The spirit of those who served and lost their lives in the process lives on eternally. It is a light that cannot and must never be extinguished.

One person who recently appropriately remembered his fallen comrades was Sgt. Ryan Pitts from Nashua. Sgt. Pitts – a UNH graduate – was recently presented the Medal of Honor – our nation’s highest award for valor. When he received the award, Sgt. Pitts took the time to say that his medal of honor belonged to several of his fallen comrades, not necessarily himself. He mentioned – as I do today – the sacrifices of Sgt. Pitts’ 8 comrades: Specialist Sergio Abad, Corporals Jonathan Ayers, Jason Bogar, Jason Hovater, Matthew Phillips, Pruitt Rainey, Gunar Zwiling and 1st Lieutenant Jonathan Brostrom. Today – let the memory of these 8 men represent the body of men and women who have given their lives for the cause of liberty.

A few days ago, Sgt. Pitts was the commencement speaker at the UNH graduation. He described an attack by about 200 insurgents against just 48 American soldiers. Each soldier, he said, fought bravely that day. Sgt. Pitts told the UNH gathering: “All my brothers were continuing to do their duty in the most hellish conditions I have ever seen.” Pitts told the audience that he is still constantly amazed at the selflessness of his brothers who patched his wounds and kept fighting relentlessly around him until their deaths. He realized that his fellow soldiers, with various beliefs, origins, and backgrounds, were all Americans who recognized together they were much stronger than the sum of their parts. Sgt. Pitts said: “When we focus on shared purpose, respect our differences, and put others before self, nothing is impossible.”

And so it is in our military. We have men and women of various races, sexual orientation and religious belief who become bound together by a common cause. Their differences are set aside for the good of the many. So tight is this bond that men and women are willing to die for each other.

This is how it has always been. Soldiers laying down their lives so other soldiers can live. It was that way in the Revolutionary War, in the 2nd World War and in all our wars. Soldiers are inherently unselfish and they more frequently than not will risk their own lives to protect and save the lives of their fellow soldiers.

Long after the battlefield guns have been silenced and the bombs have stopped dropping, the living begin to cope with the aftermath. Children grow up without a parent. Husbands, wives and partners all go on without their chosen one. Parents grieve the loss of their heroic son or daughter.

But oddly – we are all the better for the sacrifices of these men and women. The lessons we can and should learn from these soldiers are endless – but the most important lesson is that we must always stand up for liberty. Samuel Adams said it best: “The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards; And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.” The men and women we honor today gave their lives honoring that duty and we remember them today for having done so. It is as Thomas Campbell, a Scottish poet, wrote some 300 years ago: “The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree.” By being here today and by participating in these festivities, we affirm that as fact.