With Armed Forces Day having recently passed and Memorial Day on the horizon, we have an opportunity to come together within our community and honor our nation’s service members. These brave individuals risk their lives and sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedom of us back home, and I encourage you to take a moment to remember what these two holidays are all about.

The meaning behind Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day has become somewhat overshadowed by the bustle of today’s world. For too many people, Memorial Day simply means the beginning of summer or a day off work. Often, Armed Forces Day is overlooked entirely. It is important as we move forward as a nation that we remember that these holidays are more than just a day on a calendar—they honor the thousands upon thousands of Americans who have served in the United States military or lost their lives in service to our country.

Today we live in a free society where the virtue of being American means having the opportunity to succeed if we work hard, to get up should we stumble, and to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We are so fortunate to live in our nation that we sometimes forget that freedom certainly is not free. Our liberties were built upon the blood, sweat, and tears of brave Americans throughout history. Many nations around the world still yearn for even a taste of the freedoms we enjoy each and every day, and many still fight to achieve it.

As we come together as a community in honor of our men and women in uniform, I would like to take a moment to thank all the service members in our communities, as well as the veterans who have risked their lives in defense of our nation. You were ordinary mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who answered the call to duty and believed in America enough to risk your lives defending it. For you, patriotism has no bounds. You will go or have gone to all ends of the earth—from the humid jungles of Vietnam and the beaches of Normandy to the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan—to ensure that freedom and democracy are able to thrive.

I thank you for your valor and strength in the face of adversity. Without you and those brave individuals who served before you, our nation would not be what it is today. You’ve preserved the American dream and ensured that our children can sleep peacefully at night. In return, our community will honor you by never taking our freedom and opportunities for granted.

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