On every last Monday in May, we find ourselves reflecting on the men and women who so bravely risked life and limb in the face of grave danger.
We remember those who left the comforts of home to fight for us and our freedom, but never returned to one day trade the title of soldier for father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother or sister. We mourned our brothers and sisters in arms the day they left us and we mourn them now.
The men and women who have given their lives in service to this nation are, indisputably, heroes. When their country called, they answered. Some volunteered and some were drafted, but no matter how they found their way into the ranks of the military, each took an oath to serve faithfully and to their fullest.
This is commendable in a nation where so few among our citizens have donned the uniform and accepted the inherent risks, and this alone makes them heroes worthy of remembrance.
From the American Revolution to our current operations against terrorism, one million American men and women have made the supreme sacrifice while serving in wars and conflicts. We honor all of them, not just those with the highest medals or the heroes who fought in the most battles. They all died so we can continue to cherish the things that we love: freedom, country and family.
For some of our veterans, we are unable to pay our respects at a final resting place. There are still more than 82,000 military personnel missing in action from every conflict since World War II. We will never forget them and we will never stop looking to bring them home.
Personally, I cannot begin to comprehend the moment when you send your loved one off to war. You watch them disappear out of your line of sight, knowing it may very well be the last time you will see them, hug them, to tell them you love them. This has been a stark reality for many families in this country. So, too, have been the telegrams, the middle of the night phone calls and the chaplain standing at the front door of the next of kin to tell them their loved one has died.
It is all too easy for those who never suffered such losses to see past the holes that were left in the families and communities. That’s simple nature. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men and women have died to win them.”
On Memorial Day, we gather to honor the memory of our fallen warriors who have given everything for their country. It is an important day on which we ground ourselves to the reality that every Gold Star Family knows: our way of life has been shaped and made possible by those who have served and by those who were lost.
As Americans, we should all remember that freedom isn’t free. All gave some, some gave all. It’s only possible because our fallen heroes have paid its high price, a price paid which enables us to have ceremonies and observances in communities across our great country.