Remarks – Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony

Remarks by U.S. Charge d’Affaires Lisa Johnson

Your Excellency, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers Nottage and Bell, distinguished guests, good morning.

I would like to thank you all for joining us on this solemn occasion.  We are here today to honor our service members, to remember their courage and selfless dedication, and to say thank you for their sacrifices.  Today, we pay tribute to those whom we have lost, and to the many men and women in uniform currently serving across the globe, far away from their loved ones.

I would like to express our appreciation to our many Bahamian partners that contribute their time and effort to help make this event a success each year.  I also would like to thank the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, which works together with us each day to ensure the safety and security of all our citizens.

The monument behind me honors Patrol Squadron 23 and the ten sailors who tragically lost their lives on May 7, 1954. This memorial reminds us of their valor and is a testament, etched in stone, to the sacrifice and courage of these service members who left us too soon. It is a tribute to all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, not just in The Bahamas, but around the world. We are forever indebted to them and their families.

Today, as we reflect on the sacrifices of our American servicemen and women, we also remember the sacrifices of our friends and allies – for America’s Armed Forces have never stood alone.  We are honored to have with us today Bahamian World War Two veterans of the British Legion-Bahamas Branch.  Gentlemen, we acknowledge and thank you for your service and your sacrifice.

We also recognize that our United States military men and women include citizens of many nations, including The Bahamas. I am honored to remember Private First Class Norman Darling, a Bahamian who served with the United States Army’s 1st Armored Division.  Private First Class Darling was killed in 2004 while serving in the Iraq War.  Today, we pay tribute to his service and sacrifice.

Additionally, we remember Sergeant Errol McKinney, a Bahamian in the U.S. Army who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Sergeant McKinney was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in 2013, shortly after to returning to Ft. Bliss, Texas following his Afghanistan deployment.

Thomas Jefferson once said “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  Today, like so many times before, our values and freedoms are being challenged around the world.  We salute and honor our service men and women in uniform who voluntarily risk their lives and serve away from loved ones to defend the United States and its allies from enemies of the freedom that we all hold so dear.

On this most solemn of days, we also honor the families of those who have fallen, as they have borne the heavy burden of our freedom. May we be equal to their example and to the task they have set before us.

Thank you.