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Editor’s Note: The following is the speech given by Framingham Selectmen Chair Cheryl Tully Stoll at today’s Memorial Day Ceremony. Updated on May 30th to add a video clip.
Good Morning. My name is Cheryl Tully Stoll and I am the Chair of the Framingham Board of Selectmen. On behalf of the Town of Framingham I welcome you all to today’s event.
We are here today to pay tribute to America’s heroes. Not the so-called heroes who get rich on the ball field; but the ones who sacrificed all on the battlefield. Real heroes.
There is no greater calling than to protect Americans and our way of life. For our military personnel, their sacrifice begins the day they join the armed forces.
Most Americans aren’t aware that when our young men and women enroll in our military, they literally become the property of the U.S. Government.
In one bold pen stroke they agree to fight for democracy in the same instant they sacrifice their personal right to practice it.
From day one; they are sacrificing what the rest of us often take for granted so that we can take it for granted. That is but just one of their gifts to us.
Today we remember the fallen; their families and their losses.
Men and women who have given their lives; so that we can live in freedom.
Families who have been left with an excruciating sense of loss; so that we can live lives of our own choosing.
While we officially remember the fallen today, we also need to think about the forgotten. The people who did make it home alive; but left a large piece of their soul on the battlefield. The ones we can still help.
Those whose courageous service put them through more than the human spirit could endure.
Some of the people even had the bravery while deployed, despite the risk of shame and stigma in that environment, to admit they needed help while in the field. How was this bravery rewarded for many?
They were given Prozac and sent back out into the field to further compound their trauma and jeopardize the safety of the people who served with them. What a disgrace!
Is it any wonder, these men and women are now having problems? PTSD, depression, anxiety, other psychological disorders as well as addiction issues. Is our federal government really surprised by the appalling rate of veteran suicides?
Washington has lots of folks lobbying for more bombers and missiles; but there is no powerful psychological services lobby?
And compounding the problem is Big Pharma who has lots of folks on their payrolls whose sole job it is to keep the medications our veterans and their families need, financially out of reach for many of them.
You see, war is very profitable; affordable and compassionate human recovery, is not.
When we neglect one veteran; we neglect them all; and we neglect the ideals they sacrificed for. Every time an American veteran commits suicide there is one more thread torn in the American flag. Will we wait until our national symbol is in complete tatters before we as Americans do something?
This is not how heroes should be treated.
Today we stand just a few miles from the former Cushing Hospital. A once renowned military hospital that had over 1,700 beds.
Just imagine, if our country would make the commitment and put resources into the recovery of men and women today that we did after WWII?
Men and women have given their lives; so that we can live the way we do today.
Families have been devastated; so that we can live the way we do today.
People have been broken physically and mentally; so that WE can live the way we do today.
We all need to step up and be heard so that those men, woman and families can ALSO live like WE do today.