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Memorial Day: Honoring Freedom's Heroes

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By Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

Tom Brokaw's book "The Greatest Generation," reminded us of the sacrifices that so many Americans have made to keep our country safe and free. On Memorial Day, we honor the servicemembers who fought for our nation, and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.

As your family celebrates Memorial Day - whether at a parade, festival or remembrance ceremony - please remember the dedication of freedom's heroes, and the service of Texas' over 1.6 million veterans and more than 225,000 active duty, civilian, guard and reserve service members, the most of any state. I am marking this important occasion by participating in a ceremony at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

Throughout our history, whenever liberty was threatened, our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have risen in its defense. On the meadows at Lexington and Concord and on the beaches of Normandy, they heeded the call to service. In the trenches across Europe and off the islands of Midway and Guadalcanal, they did not shy from mortal danger. On so many battlefields, they have shown the true measure of American character. In Iraq and Afghanistan, they are still vigilant, fighting on the frontlines of the War on Terror.

This war is fought, on the one side, by the champions of liberty and justice, and, on the other side, by the forces of fundamentalist tyranny. It is a difficult conflict, full of challenges to be overcome. Our enemy does not strike against soldiers on a battlefield, but preys upon civilians, even children, in neighborhoods, mosques, and schools. If we do not defeat these terrorists in the Middle East, we will surely face them here at home. As General John Abizaid, former Commander of U.S. Central Command, said, "if we leave, they will follow us."

There are some members of Congress who disagree. They have voted repeatedly to disregard the advice of our generals, to revoke crucial funding for our troops and to set arbitrary deadlines for withdrawal that could further risk the lives of those there now.

Can you imagine if, in the middle of World War II, the U.S. Congress had mandated the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Europe or the Pacific - in complete disregard to the facts on the ground and the absolute necessity to win?

Can you imagine if, in the middle of the Cold War, the Congress had required the withdrawal of U.S. forces from those same parts of the world - thinking that if we withdrew our troops, the Communists would graciously do the same, and peace would prevail everywhere?

The man who won the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan once said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

We must prove worthy of President Reagan's challenge by sharing in the courage of our forebears. On Memorial Day, this is the only fitting memorial to their sacrifice.



Last Updated on Friday, 24 April 2009 16:51  

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