Memorial Day is a time for Americans to reconnect with their history and core values by honoring those who gave their lives for the ideals and values we cherish and the freedoms our country enjoys today.
More than 1.3 million Americans died in the wars and conflicts this nation has fought since the first colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775 to fight for independence. Thousands of Kansans have paid the ultimate sacrifice. In just the last few weeks -- we have lost more of our own serving in the line of duty in Afghanistan, Army Staff Sergeant Zachary Hargrove, Wichita; Army Sergeant Michael J. Knapp, Overland Park; and Army Private First Class Cale Clyde Miller, Overland Park. Each who died during those conflicts was a loved one cherished by family and friends and was a loss to the community and the nation.
Just a few decades ago, the true meaning of Memorial was lost on many Americans -- especially our young people - simply because they didn't have a personal connection to the military. At the time, our country had the smallest military in its history -- and was experiencing great prosperity and peace. The terrorist attacks on our country on 9-11 have changed that -- once again, the sacrifices made by our military men and women -- and their families -- are front and center in our society.
We in this country owe a great debt of gratitude to those who gave their lives and to their families for their sacrifices so that we may live free. We can start to pay that debt by not forgetting, by remembering what they did and what they stood for. So today, take a moment to thank an American veteran for their service.
Thank you to the men and women who have secured our freedoms. Our country is great because of your service and sacrifice.