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Remarks: Highland Heights Memorial Day Ceremony--Veterans Peace Memorial

Location: Highland Heights, OH


Thank you very much for inviting me to join you.

Today, we gather to honor and to remember all those who have served and died to defend the ideals on which our great Nation was founded -- the principles of liberty, freedom, justice, and opportunity. When I think about the meaning of Memorial Day and what it means to uphold these pillars of our Democracy, I am reminded of something Daniel Webster once said about those who gave their last full measure of devotion to protect us and our families and to preserve all that we, as a country, hold so dear. This is what he said:

"Although no sculptured marble [could] rise [high enough] to their memory, nor engraved stone bear [a complete] record of their deeds, their remembrance [is] as lasting as the land they honored."

And that -- that is what Memorial Day is all about. It is about remembrance -- about never forgetting those who fought and died so we could be free and so we could know peace and security.

Three years ago, upon the 58th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, I paid tribute on the Senate Floor to Company K, the Most Decorated Company in the 409th Regiment of the 103rd Infantry Division, 6th Corps of the 7th Army. I spoke about the men of K Company, one of whom is my dad, because I was so taken by how the passage of time has never deterred them from remembering those from the Company who never came home -- those who never had the chance to lead their lives and have families and grow old and spend time with their children and grandchildren and now even great-grandchildren.

Though it has been over six decades since these men served and fought and lived and died together, the men of K Company, now in their 80s and 90s, continue to honor their brothers who died in battle. As Bill Gleason, who was a Private in K Company, so eloquently once wrote:

"Some in our Company were denied the chance to reach old age. They didn't make it to adulthood. They never were old enough to vote in an election. They died then -- there in France or Germany. . . . They are frozen in time as they were -- forever youthful."

I think about that a great deal, especially when I meet the Ohio families of those young service members whom we've lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. While I never met any of those who have died from this area, I have, over time, met many of their families from here in Cuyahoga County and in nearby Lake and Geauga Counties. Today we remember those young heroes. Today we remember:

***Army Master Sergeant Joseph Andres, Jr.

***Marine Corporal Jeffrey Boskovitch

***Army Private First Class Samuel Bowen

***Army Sergeant Brett Christian

***Army First Sergeant Robert Dowdy

***Marine Lance Corporal Robert Eckfield

***Army Specialist Joseph Garmback, Jr.

***Marine Lance Corporal Thomas Keeling

***Marine Corporal Timothy Knight

***Army Specialist Allen Knop

***Army Staff Sergeant Sean Landrus

***Marine Lance Corporal David Mendez-Ruiz

***Marine Lance Corporal Andrew Nowacki

***Marine Lance Corporal Edward Schroeder, II

***Army Private Brandon Sloan

***Marine Corporal Brad Squires

Today, we, of course, also remember Air Force Senior Airman Alecia Good, who died in a helicopter crash; Army Sergeant Adam Cantrell, who died in a motorcycle accident; Jerry Zovko, who died in Iraq while working as a contractor; and Edward Seitz, a diplomatic security office, who died while also working in Iraq.

These men and women -- and all those who have served before them, and those who are serving now, and those who will serve hereafter -- are and will always be, in the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the "pride of our Nation."

Whether on the islands of the South Pacific, in the air over France, on the beaches of Sicily, the mountains of Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, the deserts of Kuwait, the caves of Afghanistan, or the streets of Baghdad, Ohioans have defended America and our values with great valor and conviction. They have stood tall in fights against tyranny, fascism, aggression, and now terrorism. We must never forget that they served for us, for our children, for our grandchildren and for future generations not yet born.

As President Ronald Reagan once said of our service members, "We will always remember them. We will always be proud."

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