Pausing to Remember the Sacrifice and Service of America’s Fallen Heroes
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U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
May 29, 2011 | 2,122 views | 1 comment
“Their sacrifices have made America a beacon of hope and freedom to the world.”
Every Memorial Day, Americans across the country take time to pause and remember the men and women of our military who gave their lives in service to their country and paid the ultimate price to preserve our freedoms. Some Americans will attend ceremonies at one of our national cemeteries, while others will attend parades or festivals in their hometowns. On this Memorial Day, I am honoring our fallen heroes by laying wreathes at the Kerr County War Memorial Event in Kerrville, Texas.
Since the founding of our nation, hundreds of thousands of U.S. servicemen and women have given their lives to protect the liberties and freedom of their fellow Americans. And to each one of these individuals, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude. Their sacrifices have made America a beacon of hope and freedom to the world. From the Revolutionary War to the World Wars to our present day Global War on Terror, patriotism and a commitment to service span the course of our nation’s history.
Texas has one of the highest numbers of military personnel and bases of any state, so Memorial Day touches many Texans in a very personal way. Over the last decade, of the more than 6,000 U.S. military men and women who have lost their lives fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, over 500 of these fallen soldiers called Texas home. They are part of our communities and families.
During an ambush in January 2002, at the age of 31, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman, a father, husband, and son from San Antonio, Texas, became the first U.S. soldier killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan.
He was the first of many American patriots to lay down his life in U.S. efforts to rid the world of terrorism. His sacrifice, along with all of those who have followed, was not made in vain. And when a team of U.S. Navy SEALs took down Osama bin Laden last month, they honored his and all of their sacrifices. Without the service of the fallen, critical victories in the War on Terror would not be possible.
When Nathan Chapman’s father was asked by the media about his reaction to bin Laden’s death, he said he was ‘elated’ but added that Nathan wouldn't have been satisfied until the entire world is rid of terrorism.
Today, our men and women in uniform continue to face an enemy whose allegiance is not to a nation or a group of people but against the freedom of others -- an enemy who continues to plot attacks by using themselves as weapons to take the lives of soldiers and civilians alike. While America remains a shining city on a hill, it is also a target of resentment for those who seek to enslave and repress others.
We should always pause to remember our fallen heroes and continue to preserve their legacies by remaining vigilant because the fight for freedom is ongoing. As Ronald Reagan famously once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what is was once like in the United States where men were free.”
The freedoms we enjoy today were not merely inevitable consequences of history but came about because of the hard-fought toil, sacrifices, and tough choices made by generations of brave Americans who paid for freedom with their lives. America is the land of the free because of the brave. I am eternally grateful to all of our courageous servicemen and women -- those who have lost their lives and those who continue to fight for freedom on battlefields today.
Kay Bailey Hutchison is the senior U.S. Senator from Texas