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We Must Always Remember

By Operation Homefront

It is humbling to know that those who serve in our military have taken a solemn oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” and the freedoms we enjoy daily.  It is an oath that may, and occasionally does, require one to give their life in the course of their service.  We must remember that more than 1.3 million men and women have paid this ultimate price dating back to the American Revolutionary War. On Monday, May 31st, we honor them as we pay tribute to their selfless courage and unwavering commitment to protect our experiment in democracy.

Our annual Memorial Day tribute started after the Civil War, which claimed the lives of 655,000 souls.  It began humbly when women in several states placed flowers on the graves of soldiers. In 1868, a general order was issued establishing the observance to be recognized nationwide each year: “kept up from year to year while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades.”

Memorial Day is of special importance to me because of my father.  He joined the Army in 1940 and by late 1941, he was in combat, fighting for his country.  He survived the infamous Bataan Death March and three and a half years as a prisoner of war. After his liberation, my father continued to serve this great nation until retiring as a Colonel in 1969.

Memorial Day was a sacred day of remembrance for my father as he paid tribute to those comrades who did not survive the war. He would reflect on their service and their extraordinary contributions to defending our way of life.

My father’s service inspired my initial decision to join the US Air Force when I was 17 years old and all my subsequent decisions to continue to serve at the White House and with both the USO and Operation Homefront.  I am grateful for all the opportunities I have had to serve those who have done and continue to do so much for all of us…our military members…while they serve and as they transition back into their civilian communities. 

As we enjoy Memorial Day with our families, please join me at 3 p.m. as we pause as a nation for a National Moment of Remembrance to honor those who died while in service to our country. They gave their futures for our todays…certainly an act worth remembering.

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