More are men’s ends mark’d than their lives before:
The setting sun, and music at the close,
As the last taste of sweets, is sweetest last,
Writ in remembrance more than things long past.
William Shakespeare, Richard II
It is in the cool fall mornings as I walk down the pier to Yorktown that I remember… John Gore is gone. “Whom the gods love dies young.”
John was a young Navy lieutenant in my first Navy squadron, VAW-126 Seahawks, and also my sponsor in the squadron. He helped me to learn the ropes of squadron life and acclimate to life at sea away from home and family for long periods of time with little contact. A true friend and mentor, I valued John as an older brother and he was invaluable in guiding me on my first long deployment aboard an aircraft carrier at sea.
One day in the fall of 1984 John Gore took off in Alabama and did not return to his wife, Rita, and newborn son…
American service men and women are not trained to die for the country.
They are trained to stay alive. Yet, they do die in accidents and combat. Each life has a meaning and a destiny that will not be denied. While John’s death shocked me, my squadron buddies and wives, his life had a greater impact upon us. Just as the millions of American veterans whose lives have impacted our country, much more so than their deaths.
Yes, we remember those who died for freedom. Perhaps as Shakespeare said, “More are men’s ends mark’d than their lives before,” but I believe that their lives affected our nation more. It is our remembrance of their lives, not deaths, that gives us strength and hope and a vision of freedom throughout the world.
On this Memorial Day, let us remember those patriots who have died in service to our country, but more so, let us remember the impact of their lives upon our own as fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, friends and neighbors. Their legacy of living and dying as free men and women is our strength and hope for the future.