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Memorial Day in Mills

The featured speaker at Monday's Memorial Day program used a quote from the movie "Bambi" to help put into perspective why people serve in the military.

Dr. William Rose, a veterinarian from Perham and Vietnam veteran, told the Memorial Day assembly at the New York Mills school one of his favorite quotes is from Bambi. In the movie, the young deer asked his mother, "why do we have to have winter?" Bambi's mother explained it by saying if we didn't have December, no one could truly appreciate May.

"If it wasn't for the adversities in life, how do you know when things are good?" Rose said.

Since The Revolutionary War over 670,000 Americans have given their lives in defense of our freedom. Rose asked what motivates our veterans? Why are they there? Why do they do what they do?

He shared the story of a conversation he once had with his two brothers - both former Marines - one of whom was a drill instructor. The one brother asked the drill instructor how can you take these young men, these kids, and turn them into Marines?

The answer the drill instructor gave: You have to do two things. First, you have to get their attention. You find the toughest kid and you have to take them down a notch.

Rose then recounted the part of the conversation referring to the second thing a drill instructor has to do to a young Marine.

"The second is more difficult, takes longer but is much more important. You have to teach them the most important person in the world is the one standing next to you."

Rose said that's what motivates people to serve in the military. Not just for the immediate person standing next to them but for everybody.

"They are always in service and means they are always thinking of somebody else," Rose said. "That's the essence of boot camp."

Whether it's one of the 670,000 who have died in combat or those who are still serving, Rose said they are there for you. For us.

"They are not there for the president. They are not there because of Congress. They are there for you," Rose told the assembly.

"United States of America is you and I," he continued. "It's not just a piece of land, it's the people that live here."

Rose pointed out there was a young Marine at Monday's program and people should think of his mother and his family. In doing so, Rose shared another conversation he had with his younger brother and left the assembly with one last thought. They were arguing about something relative to the military.

"His retort to me after one stupid comment I had made was: 'Bill, you don't know how hard it is to be 10 years old and see that Marine Corps car parked in your driveway.'"

Rose was wounded in action in 1968 and his family back home was notified by a Marine Corps recruiter. Even though he didn't serve in Vietnam Bill's brother reminded Bill he didn't know what it's like to come home and get the news his older brother had been wounded.

Rose, who choked up in telling that story, reminded people on this Memorial Day when we are remembering those who have served and those who have given their lives to remember their families on the homefront.