In his first inaugural address in 1981, President Ronald Reagan shared the story of a World War I Soldier whose words and actions remind us of the sacrifices we honor on Memorial Day.
Martin Treptow was working as a barber when he joined the Iowa National Guard. On July 29, 1918, during the battle of the Ourcq River in France, Pvt. Treptow was killed as he ran to deliver a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.
Among his personal effects was a diary. The flyleaf at the front of it was titled “My Pledge,” followed by these handwritten words: “America must win this war. Therefore, I will work. I will save. I will sacrifice. I will endure. I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the whole issue of the struggle depended on me alone.”
Pvt. Treptow didn’t fight alone. The outcome of that world war didn’t depend on him alone. But may words like his, alone, remind us why we celebrate Memorial Day: to honor U.S. service members’ bravery, optimism, love of country, and sheer resolve.
To all past and present members of the military across this great Nation, On Your Guard thanks you for your service.