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Judge delivers moving Memorial Day speech

David O. Carter has a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service in the 1968 battle of Khe Sanh.

May 31, 2012|By Barbara Diamond
  • Judge David O. Carter delivers the memorial address, backed by Monument Point, at the 85th annual Memorial Day celebration at Heisler Park on Monday.
Judge David O. Carter delivers the memorial address,… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

The Memorial Day Ceremony this year in Laguna was made more memorable by the words from a man who has been there, done that and would do it again — defend his country and what it stands for.

"A hero should be here to speak to you today," said Federal Judge David O. Carter, keynote speaker at the ceremony organized by American Legion Post 222. "I am not a hero. Men of much higher decoration and greater service should stand here.

"I was a warrior once — a combat Marine who has grown older, but who would enlist to fight again for our country — who values her beyond comprehension."

Carter is a hero who never speaks of his heroics. The Bronze Star and Purple Heart he was awarded after the 1968 battle of Khe Sanh speak plenty for him. Instead, he spoke on Memorial Day about those who paid the ultimate price to preserve the freedoms we cherish.

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"The memories of our friends who did not return are etched and chiseled inside," Carter said.

"For years we did not speak of our experiences … but now I find with age and the passing of other generations, it is my generation's turn to speak on this hallowed day.

"The price of freedom is one of great sacrifices to establish a democracy — a government in which 'We the People' govern ourselves and the rights of individuals are paramount."

Those rights are challenged and they have been met by generations of Americans, often in times of great peril for democracy and the promise of individual liberty, Carter said.

"(They) responded at Concord and Yorktown, Argonne Forest and Belleau Wood, the beaches of Normandy and the sands of Iwo Jima," Carter said. "They responded at the Pusan Perimeter and the Chosin Reservoir, and Fallujah and Baghdad, Kandahar and Kabul.

"We Americans will always respond because 'We the People' means we have a piece of our democracy," he said. "We will always recognize the privilege we Americans enjoy, particularly the right to question, which is the essence of freedom, and not to be had for the asking."

What sets Americans apart is that we war, we win, and then we leave — except for the dead left behind in graves on foreign soil that we sought to liberate, Carter said.

"Some of us will always wonder if we made a difference," Carter said. "Those of you who here today who have lost a loved one — you will always be able to answer that the one you loved so dearly did make a difference."

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