(Senate - June 07, 2011)

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[Page S3537]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                            NEVER TO FORGET

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, last week Senator Cochran, Senator 
Grassley, Senator Shelby, and I travelled to Flanders Field, the 
American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium. We visited the cemetery on 
the eve of Memorial Day to take part in a ceremony honoring Americans 
who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
  The U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Howard W. Gutman, shared an 
extraordinary poem he had written at the commemoration. ``Never to 
Forget'' is a tribute to those who gave their lives for our country and 
also a reminder that we must heed the lessons of our past to create a 
better future for our children.
  I would like to share Ambassador Gutman's poem with my colleagues. I 
ask unanimous consent that a copy be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                            Never to Forget

                           Memorial Day 2011

     We commemorate Memorial Day never to forget.
     Never to forget who they were.
     Men and women of many titles.
     To some they were sergeant or colonel or general;
     To others they were mom or dad,
     Uncle or aunt . . .
     Son or daughter.
     To us, they are all heroes.
     We honor them all.
     And we honor their parents who lost children.
     We honor their children who lost parents.
     As a head of one of our American Battlefield cemeteries once 
           told me:
     For those buried in his cemetery
     They remain each day on active duty. . .
     And on each day that we fail to remember them . . . that we 
           fail to honor them . . . they have served a day without 
           a mission.
     Every soldier is entitled to his mission.
     Here at Ardennes American Cemetary/Henri-Chappelle--we--
           Belgians and Americans, parents and children--we are 
           that mission.
     We commemorate Memorial Day never to forget.
     Never to forget what they did.
     Every one of them understood when they joined that the road 
           would be rough.
     They knew that this was not about television commercials 
           boasting pressed uniforms and glistening shoes or 
           steeds clashing on chessboards.
     They knew this was not about training exercises amidst sunny 
           days in North Carolina,
     They knew instead that this was about life and death.
     They knew that for every moment of thrill, there could be 
           months of fear.
     But they knew that the rest of us needed them. They knew our 
           fellow world citizens had been victims of murder or 
     Perhaps they knew in 1915 that the poppies and the hearts of 
           Belgians had been trampled on the way to 9 million 
           deaths in WWI.
     Or perhaps they knew in 1944 that Max Gutman was hiding in 
           the woods in Poland after every other Jew in his small 
           town of Biyala Rafka had been slaughtered. Maybe they 
           knew that his dream one day to come to America, to 
           raise a future U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, had nearly 
           been extinguished along with the future for so many 
           Poles and Catholics and Jews.
     Maybe they knew in 2001 that our citizens had been the 
           victims of terror and remained under threat.
     Whenever they served, wherever they served, they knew we 
           needed someone to help, to respond, to free, to save, 
           to protect.
     And they said, ``I will.''
     We commemorate Memorial Day never to forget the face of evil.
     We welcome all into the brotherhood of man. We will meet you 
           far more than half way. We and our allies will send our 
           diplomats, help feed your poor, and treat you with 
           respect. But threaten none, harm even fewer,
     We commemorate Memorial Day never to forget.
     Never to forget what they died for.
     Can you hear them each and every one of the 5323 buried here 
           and the tens of thousands buried elsewhere . . .
     Can you hear them?
     If not, it is because you are listening with your ears.
     But on Memorial Day, we listen not with our ears, but instead 
           with our hearts.
     And with our hearts we can hear them loudly and clearly.
     They tell us that they lived in a country that believed in 
           freedom and understood right from wrong.
     And they tell us that they believed in service, in duty, in 
           the mission of creating a better world.
     They tell us never to forget, but certainly to move forward 
           and build bridges where pools of hatred previously 
     They fought and they died to move us a step closer towards 
           the brotherhood of man. We must never use their memory 
           as an excuse not to get there.
     Thus while we can never forget, while we will never forget, 
           we will forgive those who have followed. Where we faced 
           each other to the death, we will walk together to 
           rebuild a better life.
     And that may be the most enduring lesson--lessons for 
           Belgium, for Europe, for the Middle East, or for all 
           places where tensions rooted in the mistakes or ill 
           deeds of the past threaten the progress of the future.
     The lessons are that we need not carry the blame nor clear 
           the name of our parents and grandparents looking back.
     Rather that we build a better name for our children and our 
           grandchildren going forward. That we must use the 
           lessons of the past to carve a better future.
     We are so used to the expression ``Forgive but don't 
           forget.'' And of course Memorial Day proclaims that we 
           shall never forget.
     But in making sure we don't forget, sometimes we don't truly 
     We commemorate Memorial Day never to forget precisely so that 
           we can forgive.
     --Ambassador Howard Gutman