by John R. Campbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy
Last week, I watched in awe as Staff Sergeant Freddie Delasantos finished the 2011 U.S. Paralympics Warrior Games Handcycle Race on a broken bike, with no chains, using only his hands.
His statement to me after this display of personal heroism and resiliency -- the race was that he finished was for those who could not be here.
That is the kind of memorial that I hope every American holds in their hearts this Memorial Day for those who cannot be here with us. A relentless and spirited dedication that vibrates our sense of duty and honor to our core. One that motivates us to not only remember, but one that calls on us to act and serve.
I hope that this Memorial Day we can all recall the Special Forces competitor finding within him the will to continue by memorializing and remembering those who are still fighting, and those have given all.
This, by a man who has given more than most.
One cannot help but gain a humbling perspective when confronted by severely wounded warriors who feel even their own their sacrifices and drive and spirit inadequate to repay the debt we all owe their fallen comrades. I served in Vietnam, and came home with two Purple Hearts, and I think deeply every day of those who did not come home. I have also listened to wounded warriors speak of “survivors guilt.” But I also know that the only guilt for a survivor is failing to remember, and failing to give our all to hold onto their memory with every fiber of our being.
Thus humbled, I offer my most sincere thanks to the families and friends of our fallen heroes this Memorial Day. All gave some, some gave more than most, and others gave all. For those who wish to pause to honor them this Memorial Day, here is a list of ceremonies at our National Cemeteries. If you are called to act or serve, please visit Serve.gov and chose to help our military families. My best wishes for a safe holiday.
John R. Campbell
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for
Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy