Washington is a town full of monuments and memorials dedicated to famous people, events, and presidents. Within just a few miles, there are tributes to President Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., President George Washington, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. They all accomplished heroic deeds and led our country through trying times.
A handful of other memorials on the National Mall pay tribute to a group of Americans who led our country in another way. These memorials honor the men and women who have served in our country’s armed forces. Our veterans and fallen soldiers are honored day and night at the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and a planned Native American Veterans’ Memorial made possible by my bill in the 113th Congress, H.R. 2319, that became law in 2013.
In a time of beautiful Oklahoma summer weather and backyard barbeques, it’s easy to lose sight of the true reason for Memorial Day. As we enjoy a three day weekend, we should be reminded of the service members who gave everything they had in order to protect Americans like you and me.
In his first address to Congress, President Truman described the immeasurable debt we owe to those who defend our freedoms: “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.” The sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform are impossible to repay, but we can honor their sacrifice in a couple of ways.
We can honor the families of our fallen heroes. Their loved ones gave their lives for each and every one of us. This Memorial Day weekend, I encourage you to remember in your prayers the families of the service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedoms from evil.
Secondly, we can honor them by utilizing our freedoms to the fullest. The men and women who gave their lives for our country defended us against communism, Nazism, monarchy, and terrorism. We owe it to them to exercise our rights to free speech, to religion, and to bear arms. Our democracy and the freedoms granted to us are often taken for granted. Pay tribute to those men and women by taking advantage of the freedoms they died for.
Our gratitude may never be enough, but we can honor the lives of those who gave all that they had in the name of something bigger. Their sacrifice is far more permanent than a memorial on our National Mall. Their sacrifice is forever etched into our nation’s history.