Memorial Day: A Tribute to Our Troops
by U.S. Representative Barbara Cubin
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." --John Stuart Mill
On Memorial Day, I hope we all take the opportunity to pause and honor our troops who place their lives on the line to protect ours. We should be grateful for these sacrifices every day, but particularly on Memorial Day. It represents a day of national awareness and reverence for our soldiers, and reminds our troops that we stand behind and support them as they serve and protect our great country.
The first, unofficial Memorial Day began in Waterloo, New York, on May 5, 1866 when the town honored local soldiers and sailors who fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and citizens flew the nation's flag in memory of those who served in the war. By the end of the 1800s, many towns across the U.S. were taking part in ceremonies to remember our soldiers. It was not until 1971 that Congress declared Memorial Day to be a national holiday, and designated the celebration of it on the last Monday in May.
On this particular Memorial Day, we should take time to reflect on the war we are currently fighting against terrorism. No one said the war would be easy, but very few accurately predicted how difficult it has become. This war is trying, but what would be worse is if we were to forget the reason we send our troops into battle. We cannot let the naysayers in Washington or elsewhere break our spirit and resolve as we continue the necessary, but difficult job of confronting our enemy abroad. If we lessen our determination or withdraw before our job is done, we would be conceding to the terrorists and telling the troops and their families their sacrifices don't matter.
Fortunately, our country has been blessed with tremendous amounts of fortitude and perseverance. We all owe a great debt to our troops whose sacrifices and patriotism strengthen our nation. America has a lot worth fighting for, and it is the brave men and women in the field each day that we should thank for protecting and preserving our freedoms.
Every Memorial Day serves as a reminder of the vital importance of what our troops fight to protect and to preserve: our freedom. Like the Mill quote suggests, nothing is worse than losing sight of the purpose and motivation of why we are at war. As we all are aware, this freedom comes at quite a cost. On Memorial Day, we offer a heartfelt thanks and gratitude to our troops for all that they do to keep us safe. May God bless and continue to watch over our troops and the U.S.A.