NOTE: The governor frequently deviates from prepared text.
We gather today in remembrance of 29 brave souls from Texas towns and Texas bases who gave their lives in service to freedom. They represented the best America had to offer. They came from our border towns, our urban centers, our rural communities. They shared a dedication to the mission, a devotion to their country, a determination to see their duties to their completion.
To the loved ones they leave behind - parents who gave them life and direction, children whom they loved without condition, spouses with whom they shared their hopes and dreams - we offer our deepest sympathy. We cannot feel, as you do, the full impact of this loss, but our hearts are heavy with grief, and our thoughts and prayers are with you every day. May God grant you comfort in your time of sorrow and, with the passage of time, may you find solace and peace.
Though they are no longer here, you will continue to feel their presence in your life when a favorite song comes on the radio, during news reports of their comrades, in the laughter of their children. And this you can always know: Your loved one fought and died for a great cause - to free an oppressed people and to defend the cause of freedom.
America will always be indebted to them for their willingness to serve, for their bravery in the face of danger and for their supreme sacrifice described by the Book of John as the greatest form of love. Generations upon generations of Americans have learned through tragedy and triumph that freedom is not free. It comes at a great cost, measured in human lives. The lives we commemorate today are part of an enduring American legacy: those who loved freedom so much that they would pay any price and bear any burden on its behalf.
Many of them paid that price in the dawn of their lives, sacrificing their future for ours. In the words of Lawrence Binyon, the author of "Poems for the Fallen":
"They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them."
We gather here today to affirm that their heroic deeds will never be forgotten. We will remember always the lives they lived, the heroic deeds they performed, the gift they gave so we may be free. May they rest in eternal peace. May God comfort the loved ones they leave behind. And may the freedom they died for live on as a lasting tribute to their lives.