Thank you, Lorenz Burger. You came to this country in 1848, when things in Germany weren’t going well. You settled in Brooklyn, set out to learn English, and kept your fellow Bavarians happy by brewing their beloved weizenbier. Thank you for leaving your brewery on Broome Street in lower Manhattan’s Kleine Deutschland when the union was threatened. Your own Germany was hardly united, but you answered Abraham Lincoln’s call to help save this Union.

Thank you, too, Russell Edward Joseph Burger. Your service in France in 1918 in the medical corps helped save lives and comforted the dying.

Thank you, Clarence Burger. You did your part, watching German prisoners of war, even though you were just two generations removed from your German roots. You did your part.

Thank you, Navy pilot John Anthony Burger. You didn’t get to fly in the war. You died in a training accident right before America was attacked at Pearl Harbor. But you were ready for the fight. You were ready to put your life on the line.

Thank you, Navy Radioman first class William Selleck. It was a long way from Roscoe, N.Y., where flowing streams yielded beautiful trout, to Leyte Gulf in the Philippines, where you found a watery grave. You just might have returned to the Catskills, but friendly fire added your name to the list of war heroes.

Thank you, Navy Commander Jack McKee, killed in a helicopter accident off the coast of California during the Vietnam conflict.

Thank you, Charles Burger, George Burger, and many other uncles and distant relatives. Though you did not die in combat, you served your country in war and got to serve America in peace time, as well.

And to all veterans, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, thank you.