Memorial Day is upon us. This solemn day reminds us of the many military men and women who have shed their blood in battle so that our freedom might be secure. It gives us occasion to pause and honor thememory of those who loved freedom so dearly that they would lay down their lives to preserve it.
The fact that as a nation we have a day set aside to remember the fallen in battle brings two things to mind: first, we are deeply indebted to our fellow Americans who gave their lives to defeat the forces of repression and tyranny; second, we are fortunate to live in a country where freedom is the norm.
Many millions around the world still groan under the weight of repressive regimes. However, thanks to the courage and dedication of the American armed forces for more than 200 years, countless free people can live, work, speak and worship as they see fit. Whether by the fall of the Iron Curtain or the demise of the Third Reich, American troops have given their blood, sweat and tears to preserve not only our freedom, but to bring liberty to those under the repressive thumb of tyrants.
Thomas Paine, the American writer and revolutionary said in 1776, “He whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.” The conviction that liberty is an inalienable right led America’s founders to rebel against their colonial masters. That same conviction in the principle of liberty has spurred many selfless Americans to risk and even give their lives so that we and others might be free.
These are turbulent times for our nation’s military families. Today, tens of thousands of Americans are deployed around the world under our flag. They risk life and limb on the battlefield tokeep our freedoms intact. And with President Obama’s decision this spring to commit the American military to the conflict in Libya, our forces are stretched thin by fighting on three fronts.
Despite incredible hardships our forces persevere and excel. The desert heat of Iraq or the treacherous mountain terrain of Afghanistan are no match for the dedication of our men and women in uniform. Day after day they make their families and their nation proud by their service to America.
But no amount of pride in our military men and women can decrease the tragedy of a single American combat death and to date nearly 1,500 have paid the ultimate price in the war in Afghanistan alone. Even more have been lost in Iraq. We must honor and remember them so that their sacrifice was not in vain.
It is true that some Americans have misgivings about our nation’s involvement in conflicts abroad. While this is an important discussion to have, let’s not allow the debate over these conflicts to overshadow either the sacrifices made by military families or this season of remembrance. After all, we owe much to our veterans, active duty military and their comrades in arms who have fallen.
This is a time to band together to comfort the grieving, to remember the lives cut short and to celebrate those who cherished liberty even to the point of shedding their blood. Memorial Day is about remembering the remarkable people whose dedication and sacrifice are testament to the timeless power of liberty to draw thousands to its defense. We are a fortunate nation, where many have willingly laid down their lives so that we might befree. Let us never forget them.
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx represents the Fifth Congressional District of North Carolina. She currently serves on the House RulesCommittee. You may contact her office toll free at 1-866-677-8968 or email her from her website, www.foxx.house.gov.