Honor our heroes...

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Susan Helms
  • 45th SW commander
With Sunday's tragic news that seven U.S. servicemembers were killed in Iraq Saturday, Memorial Day took on a more somber and personal meaning to the friends and families of those young American heroes. Those seven are among the almost 3,500 American troops who have died in the Iraq War and the nearly 1 million men and women who have given their lives in all of our wars. It's a dear price to pay, but the reward for that price is even dearer - our freedom!

Monday is Memorial Day. It is more than just the culmination of another three-day weekend; it is our holiday to remember and honor the military men and women and their ultimate sacrifices that form the cornerstone of our democracy. America was born of a desire to be free from tyranny and to uphold the rights of every human being.

Throughout our history, regular citizens from cities and towns in every state have stepped up to protect those rights. And some, unfortunately, lost their lives in the process. It is so very important that we continue to honor the many who, in every generation, took the Oath of Allegiance as members of America's armed forces - willing to serve, fight and, if necessary, die for the sake of freedom and our national interests. It is up to us to uphold their legacy with respect, reverence and heartfelt gratitude.

And although every day is worthy of commemorating those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, Memorial Day is provides a specific opportunity to step up to that responsibility as a nation. Take time to do the one thing that will matter the most: Seek out and shake the hands of veterans you know. Listen to their stories: they will impress you with their humble reflections on their battle experiences. Reflect on the sacrifice of their families as well-so many veterans could not have protected our freedom so well without the support their loved ones! If you spend time with a veteran on Memorial Day, there is no better way to honor them and keep their memories and legacies alive. 

Thanks for all that you and your familes do for our nation. Have a safe Memorial Day weekend, but don't forget what it is truly all about.