How fortunate we are to live, work and worship freely in this great nation; however, throughout history, these things have come at a high cost. Our independence is only possible because of those who came before us and died to defend it. Maintaining liberty is arduous work and there are times we must show the world that we believe in freedom enough to fight for it. This is how we preserve our way of life and hand down the mantle of freedom to each new generation.
We salute the men and women in all of our armed forces who have answered the call and are especially grateful for those who have given their lives in defense of our country. Each one of us hurts individually and we feel the pain as a nation every time we lose an American in war. We revere the men and women who gave their lives throughout our nation’s history and the families they left behind in pursuit of keeping Americans free and safe.
On Memorial Day, we pay tribute to the memory of those who have fallen in service to our country. Those who sign up to defend our country today, despite knowing who the enemy is and the challenges they will face, have earned the admiration and respect of the nation. Through my new position as Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, I have had the opportunity to meet with many of our brave enlisted members and military leaders to hear their needs and better understand the pain and heartache of war, which has led me to an even deeper appreciation of the sacrifices being made.
As we reflect on the lives of our fallen heroes, I am humbled by the truth of Holy Scripture as recorded in the Gospel of John, “There is no greater love than this that a man lay down his life for a friend.” How much more so then if a man is willing to lay down his life to preserve the freedom of those he doesn’t even know and may never meet? That is true sacrificial service and we honor the courage and sacrifice of our fallen heroes and their families for their role in protecting America and preserving our prosperity and future.
Memorial Day was first officially observed on May 30, 1868, just three years after the Civil War ended, with flowers placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. And now 140 years later, grieving family members will gather on Memorial Day in East Tennessee and throughout the country to remember their loved ones. Whether they gather to honor fallen soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and women, Coastguardsmen and women or those who have served in the National Guard and Reserves, we too, will remember all of America’s fallen heroes who gave their lives for the cause of freedom.
Former president John F. Kennedy Jr. once said, “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.” Our current troops have answered our country’s call and join all those who have lived and fought before them in defending our freedom.