TRIBUTE: In a Memorial Day 2015 ceremony flush with gratitude, pride and honor, a crowd of more than 500 grew still on Pier 86, next to the USS Intrepid in Manhattan, as four-star Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly today spoke of the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom — made by his own son.
Many wiped tears as the general ( photo, left ) recalled how he had to tell his wife, daughter and other loved ones that young Robert Kelly, 29, a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, who was killed in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan on Nov. 9, 2010.
“I worked so hard in believing his sacrifice was worth it,” the general told the gathering of current and retired military members, government officials and spectators in the shadow of the World War II-era aircraft carrier. “It then came to me two weeks later the day we buried him [at Arlington National Cemetery].
“It doesn’t matter what I thought of his death,” he said. “The only thing that matters is what he thought, and he decided it was more important to be in Afghanistan doing what he was doing with his Marines and Navy docs who he loved so well.”
The future of our republic is secure, Kelly added, as long as there are “tough young Americans who leave comfortable lives to hunt down” those who would attack it or our allies.
At the same time, he said, we “should be ashamed of ourselves if we don’t at least for a few minutes on this day stop and think about the men and women who fell serving this country, and for the new greatest generation who are right now around the world facing a ruthless enemy for us.”
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ALL PHOTOS: Maria D.L. Angeles for CLIFFVIEW PILOT
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to continue efforts to support returning veterans and their spouses, including addressing veteran homelessness.
Four ceremonial wreath-layings following off the pier into the Hudson River — for U.S. military personnel lost in current conflicts, for U.S. military personnel lost in all other conflicts in our history, for crew members of the USS Intrepid and for military personnel of allied nations.
Then came the unfurling of the national ensign — with dozens of veterans and their families joining current military members holding the 100-foot flag — followed by a three-volley rifle salute by the U.S. Army Reserve 99th Regional Support Command, the playing of “Taps” by the Navy Band Northeast.and a missing-man-formation flyover of F/A-18 Hornets from Strike Fighter Squadrons 213 and 31.
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