Memorial Day, one of America’s most venerated national holidays, is set aside so that we might reflect on the honor and sacrifice of those who courageously gave their lives to safeguard us and our way of life. They are forever young in our memories.
Throughout our nearly 237-year history as a democracy, time and again, Americans in uniform have had to secure the heritage of freedom and liberty for us and for the oppressed in other lands, paying a steep price in blood and suffering.
The past decade has provided reminder enough of the devotion, loyalty, and determination of the magnificent men and women who serve in our military formations. “In harm’s way” has become the cliché for those deployed on mission without really capturing the danger, stress, worry, fear, and love that keeps military families riveted to each breaking overseas news bulletin. There are no clichés for discussing the undiscussable.
As we, in the Department of Veterans Affairs, go about our duties of providing America’s living Veterans the care, benefits, and services they have earned, let us also remember the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom. Their powerful legacy surrounds us each and every day all across this Nation - when we gather openly to speak our minds freely. It is found in our churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples, where worship is freely exercised. It is evident in the openness of our media, where information is shared without fear of reprisal. It is embedded in our polling places, where ballots freely cast determine who will govern this great land.
In caring for those “who [have] borne the battle,” we come to understand the consequences of war. Let us remember the families of our Fallen. And with our prayers for peace, let us also pray for the Almighty’s continued blessings on this great country, for which so many laid down their lives.
Eric K. Shinseki