A reader writes: “I just finished reading Aaron MacLean’s article ‘A Family Affair,’ in your November 9 issue, reporting the recent retirement of General John F. Kelly from the Marine Corps. I am deeply grateful for the supremely moving description of General Kelly’s life and in particular MacLean’s recounting of the speech the general gave in St. Louis mere days after his son Robert’s death in Afghanistan.
“I recall reading the ‘Giving Thanks for Our Warriors’ piece in The Scrapbook column of your December 6, 2010, issue. That 2010 piece quoted excerpts from the portion of General Kelly’s speech describing the last six seconds of two Marines’ lives—Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, who were killed in action, simultaneously, in Iraq on April 22, 2008.
“As a retired Navy captain I have been asked to speak at numerous Memorial Day events in and around my Grand Rapids, Michigan, home. Every Memorial Day speech I’ve given since 2011 has not been my own words. Instead I have read to my audience ‘Giving Thanks for Our Warriors.’ It is stark, powerful, gut-wrenching. I warn my audiences about this before I begin. The reaction exhibited by my audiences upon hearing these words always includes shock and a stunned, profound silence. I can only imagine the collision of emotions within General Kelly’s own mind when he spoke those words in St. Louis five years ago. I cannot begin to comprehend his level of self-discipline or his mental toughness; he possesses those qualities to a much greater degree than I can ever hope to.
“These people—Robert, Jonathan, Jordan, and all our brave men and women who sacrificed everything to defend freedom—need to be remembered by all Americans. Aaron MacLean and The Weekly Standard contribute significantly to that effort. For that I am deeply grateful, as a veteran, as an American, and as a human being.”
Sincerely, Paul J. Ryan
Captain, United States Navy (Ret.)