Today we celebrate Memorial Day. Unofficially, it’s the start of summer – a chance for us to spend some time with family and friends, at barbecues or other outings getting a little fun and relaxation in before heading back to work.
It’s also a day on which we set aside some time, on our own or with our families, to honor and remember all the men and women, who have given their lives in service to this country we love.
They are heroes, each and every one. They gave America the most precious thing they had – “the last full measure of devotion.” And because they did, we are who we are today – a free and prosperous nation, the greatest in the world.
At a time when only about one percent of the American people bear the burden of our defense, the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform isn’t always readily apparent. That’s partly because our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and coast guardsmen are so skilled at what they do. It’s also because those who serve tend to do so quietly. They don’t seek the limelight. They don’t serve for our admiration, or even our gratitude. They risk their lives, and many give their lives, for something larger than themselves or any of us: the ideals of liberty and justice that make America a beacon of hope for the world.
That’s been true throughout our history – from our earliest days, when a tiny band of revolutionaries stood up to an Empire, to our 9/11 Generation, which continues to serve and sacrifice today.
Every time a threat has risen, Americans have risen to meet it. And because of that courage – that willingness to fight, and even die – America endures.
That is the purpose of Memorial Day. To remember with gratitude the countless men and women who gave their lives so we could know peace, live in freedom and reach our collective potential. Today we also remember and honor our brother Vince Hahn for his service to our Nation.
And we must do more than remember. We must live to give of our time and resources to care for the loved ones that our fallen service members have left behind. We must make sure all our veterans have the care and benefits they’ve earned, and the jobs and opportunity they deserve. We must be there for the military families whose loved ones are in harm’s way – for they serve as well.
And above all, we must make sure that the men and women of our armed forces have the support they need to achieve their missions safely at home and abroad.
So today, let us all honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the freedoms to pursue life's greatest potential.
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