Great Lakes commanding officer: A debt we can never truly repay, Memorial Day 2020

  • Capt. Raymond C. Leung

    Capt. Raymond C. Leung Courtesy Naval Station Great Lakes

By Capt. Raymond C. Leung
Special to the Daily Herald
Posted5/22/2020 6:00 AM

Memorial Day brings Americans together to honor those who have given their lives for our country during military service.

It is a day of remembrance about the sacrifices so many have made and continue to make for our nation.


We must never forget these brave Americans, taken from us too soon.

Today, we have an invisible enemy to fight and we cannot be together to commemorate this year. Instead of speeches, video teleconferencing and quarantine family barbecues, we must do what we can to honor those who have given their lives for our country from the comfort of our homes, physically separated but together in our hearts.

In the military, we honor them by standing the watch. Right now, there are American service members serving in harm's way around the world -- on land, on sea and in the air.

They are playing the away game defending America, while we grind it out against an opponent named COVID-19 in a home game.

Here in America, 61,900 Department of Defense personnel have been engaged in the fight against COVID-19. Medical personnel, engineers, National Guardsmen, and reservists from the Navy, Air Force and Army have all contributed.

We have been providing emergency staff, sites and supplies. We stand ready to safeguard our nation while, at the same time, supporting the national response.

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I encourage all who are serving and have served in uniform, active duty and veterans, and the dedicated families who stand beside you, to embrace your service. It is because you understand sacrifice in the service of higher ideals.

The role of the military in every aspect of our nation's defense continues to be crucial.

This country has always been able to count -- in times of greatest crisis -- on its best people stepping forward, willing to risk their lives for the foundation and the ideals of this great country. Today is no different.

We see it every day from our military, our health care workers and our first responders. Now we are seeing uncommon heroism from everyday people. These Americans did not expect to be heroic just by doing their jobs -- letter carriers, grocery store workers and truck drivers -- to name just a few.

We are here to support our Gold Star families.

The debt we owe our fallen and their loved ones is one we can never truly repay.

It is up to us to live our lives in a way that is worthy of the Gold Star families' loss. I hope next year that we can return Memorial Day to a normal day of remembrance and reflection, coming together once again.

It is a highlight of my year to be able to celebrate with our friends and neighbors all over Lake County, in Southern Wisconsin, and in Chicago. I miss all of you and hope to see you in person again soon.

• Capt. Raymond C. Leung is the Commanding Officer at Naval Station Great Lakes.

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