Good afternoon. On behalf of my Grandma Raqui and our family, I want to thank all of you for being here. We have gathered to celebrate and honor my grandfather, Edwin Ramsey, and I wanted to speak today about my grandfather’s legacy.
Standing here now on the footsteps of our nation’s capital, overlooking Arlington National Cemetery, where many of our country’s bravest have been lain to rest, it is impossible to ignore my grandfather’s place in that hallowed ground. He is an American hero. At a time when all he wanted was to travel the world, ride horses, play polo, and dance with beautiful women, he was plunged into the heart of a great war. Faced with that brutal reality, my grandfather chose to fight and to survive. Hunted relentlessly by the Japanese, stricken with malaria, dysentery and other diseases, suffering the removal of his appendix with rudimentary tools and no painkillers, he kept fighting. By the end of the war, he was literally a shell of himself, having lost nearly half his body mass, but he lived and his actions changed the world.
Yet, my grandfather never thought of himself as a hero. Whenever he talked about his experiences, he would always tell me that he was just trying to survive and do his part, and that it was the people around him who were the heroes. He would praise the Philippinos who sheltered and protected him, and who took up arms to fight for him, and I know that he felt a deep and abiding love for them throughout his life. My grandfather never harbored animosity toward the Japanese who had hunted him, believing that they too were victims of a horrible circumstance and just trying to survive; and he later spent many years working hand in hand with them as an executive with Hughes Aircraft Company.
What my grandfather taught me is that we all must endure trials and hardships in our lives, but that anything can be overcome with bravery and steadfast determination. He applied this resolve not only in his actions during the war, but also in his professional and family life after the war. He believed in setting goals and doing whatever was necessary to achieve them, but also enjoying the process and appreciating the people that are with you and the journey.
Since my grandfather passed away, I have often found myself thinking about him and how his legacy has shaped the fabric of our family. What I have come to realize about my grandfather is that he saw life as an adventure and cherished experiencing the journey with those he loved. He truly embodied the phrase, Carpe Diem. He refused to let the trials of his youth detour him from living his life to the fullest, which he did to his dying day, and at 95, that’s a lot of living.
This lesson he passed on to his children and grandchildren. We each are following in his exceptional footsteps in our own way, but we all share his drive to succeed in life, and his willingness to work hard and sacrifice to overcome the inevitable obstacles. We share his desire to travel and experience the many wonders of this world, and the many wonderful people in it. We share his loyalty to this country and to the Philippino people who sheltered him during the war and made our existence possible. And most of all, we share an appreciation of the importance of friends and family as we navigate our life’s journey, for it is this shared joy and love that brings meaning to it all.
So again, I want to thank you all for being here today. The love and support you have given to my Grandma Raqui and our family is a testament to my granddad’s enduring legacy, and is truly appreciated.
Lt. Col. Edwin P. Ramsey
Celebration of Life Memorial and Reception
Remarks by James Ramsey, Ed's Grandson