Honoring the Fallen — Memorial Day, 2012
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U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey HutchisonMay 25, 2012 | 2,134 views | 1 comment
We often hear the phrase “freedom isn’t free”. Memorial Day is the day we, as a nation, pause to reflect on the terrible price some have paid for our freedom -- not just the fallen soldiers but the families they left behind.
In the past 10 years of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, notifications of the deaths of young Texans have arrived nearly every week. Texas continues to produce young people who value military service, who understand that freedom comes at a price and who are willing to give their all to protect it. They train and they fight and they form a brotherhood with their fellow soldiers. They take incredible risks on foreign soil, then come home and volunteer for more of the same.
Over the last few weeks, we received notifications of the deaths of three more Texans who died in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Wade D. Wilson of Leona died on May 11th while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was 22. A Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, Wade was a graduate of Centerville High School, where he played football, ran track and showed cattle at the county livestock show.
Staff Sergeant Joseph H. Fankhauser of Mason was also a Marine and also stationed at Camp Pendleton. Known as Frank or Bob, he attended Sharyland High School and had previously served four tours in Iraq. He was on his second tour in Afghanistan when he died on April 22nd, conducting combat operations in Helmand Province. He was 30.
Sergeant Tanner S. Higgins of Yantis died Saturday, April 14th at age 23. Enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire in Logar Province, Afghanistan. Sergeant Higgins grew up in the Yantis and Sulphur Springs area, and graduated from Sulphur Springs High School in 2007. He leaves behind his wife, Shelby Lynn Higgins, and his parents, Danny Higgins and Patti Sells.
These young men were real people with real families, real hopes and real dreams. Their deaths serve to remind us in a very painful and personal way of the cost of war. They also remind us who is doing the fighting and the dying -- and who is being left behind. Young Texas men and women continue to answer the call of duty, and we as a nation are so fortunate that they heed this call.
This is a particularly heinous war. The enemy is one that intentionally kills women, children, innocent bystanders and their own. They have no honor.
But they must be stopped if freedom is to prevail.
This is my last Memorial Day as a US Senator. Over the past 19 years, there have been far too many memorial services for the fallen. I have spoken with the families of too many Texans who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and have witnessed the pain and the loss they feel. Human nature being what it is, I understand that the world will always be a dangerous place. There will always be evil that must be deterred and battles that must be fought. With our military deployed throughout the world and a war being waged in Afghanistan, there will be more painful notifications to come. Yet on this Memorial Day, I hope and pray there will come a time when weeks and months will pass without a single notification of the death of a brave young soldier.
I continue to be grateful for the service of all our men and women in uniform, and the sacrifice of families who support them. No, freedom is certainly not free. Perhaps we need more than one day a year to remind us of the debt we owe to those who have made America a beacon of freedom to every other nation on earth.
Hutchison, a Republican, is the senior U.S. senator from Texas.