On Memorial Day, we pause to reflect, remember and honor those who paid the ultimate price to protect our freedom. While we recognize this day every year, every single day is an opportunity to remember and give thanks.
BE IT ON THE beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima, or today in the fight against terrorism, our women and men in uniform always have shown they are the best of our nation. They are our heroes, and we are all indebted to them. It is because of their sacrifice that America still is a land of freedom and opportunity.
This is a time to honor those who gave their lives for their country. It also is a reminder of the charge we all have to remember and serve our veterans and their families.
Last month, my office had the privilege of hosting a Purple Heart Ceremony for the family of former 1st Lt. Franklyn Snyder. Mr. Snyder served as a navigator for the Army Air Corps in World War II. His B-17 was shot down over Germany in March 1944, and he was held as a prisoner of war in Barth, Germany until the Russians liberated the prisoners in 1945.
Mr. Snyder unfortunately passed away before receiving his Purple Heart, but it was an honor for our office to work with the Georgia Army National Guard to ensure his service and heroism were recognized. Like so many others in his generation, the Greatest Generation, Mr. Snyder answered his country’s call, fighting against the tyranny of the Axis Powers.
AS THE HOME of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine bases, Georgia has had a long and proud military tradition. I grew up in Warner Robins, the home of Robins Air Force Base, and have been blessed to have witnessed that tradition throughout my life. My father, David A. Perdue Sr., served in both World War II and Korea, retiring as a colonel in the Air Force Reserves in 1952. From an early age, he taught me that no one understands the real price of freedom better than those who have served.
That is just as true today. Our all-volunteer military is deployed and redeployed at a higher rate than any other time in our history. Their sacrifices must never be far from our hearts. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I am committed to working every single day to ensure that the promises made to our veterans and their families are kept, and that the legacy of those who gave all is never forgotten.
I’m reminded of President Reagan’s Memorial Day message in 1983. In part, he said, “In particular, we are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free … As a tribute to their sacrifice, let us renew our resolve to remain strong enough to deter aggression, wise enough to preserve and protect our freedom, and thoughtful enough to promote lasting peace throughout the world.”
THAT IS THE charge before us. The freedom and liberty our nation has enjoyed for more than 239 years has come with great loss and sacrifice. We always must remember the valor of those who gave all.
(The writer is the junior U.S. senator from Georgia.)