Engraved on the Korean War Veterans Memorial in our nation’s capital is the expression, “Freedom Is Not Free.” Never is that more apt than each and every Memorial Day.
While we are always thankful for the sacrifices made by all those who have served our country, Memorial Day is the time to remind ourselves just how much these brave men and women have given, and recognize the valor and dedication they have shown while defending our democracy and the values we hold so dear.
Our state has a strong history of supporting veterans. In fact, Memorial Day got its start in Waterloo, NY, in 1866. Families gathered together to honor their loved ones by placing flowers on their graves and lowering flags to half-staff. That spirit continues today as people all over the country gather on Memorial Day to pay their respects to our fallen heroes.
Over 6,000 Americans have tragically lost their lives in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Those brave men and women, who have sacrificed their lives in defense of our nation, and the families they have left behind, deserve to be honored and recognized. Unfortunately, they are not alone. We commemorate the memories of all those who have fallen in our defense, including those who served in the Gulf War, Panama, Vietnam, Korea, World War II and all the way back to our country’s founding.
Currently, our state is home to almost 900,000 veterans, 630,000 of whom served during wartimes. These soldiers put their lives on the line in service of our country, and this Memorial Day, we stand with them in honoring their fallen brothers and sisters. Moreover, tens of thousands of U.S. military personnel continue to serve in combat and potential combat zones around the world. They are in my thoughts and prayers, and I hope they are in yours as well as they fulfill their duty safeguarding our freedoms and our families.