Jeb on Memorial Day
ON MEMORIAL DAY, observed this coming Monday, Americans pause and pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to make our nation the great country that it is today. Without that sacrifice by generations upon generations of Americans since the Revolutionary War, none of us would enjoy the freedoms that we too often take for granted.
Whether attending a Memorial Day event on the federal holiday or the traditional Memorial Day of May 30, marching in a parade, laying wreaths, building monuments or displaying our flag, we all have the opportunity to participate in events honoring those who have sacrificed so much. As Americans, it is vitally important that we recognize, honor and thank those who have fought and died to defend our Constitution and the principles upon which our nation was founded.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars eloquently state about Memorial Day: "It's a sacred day to all war veterans. None need to be reminded of the reason that Memorial Day must be commemorated. . . . Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance. America's collective consciousness demands that all citizens recall and be aware of the deaths of their fellow countrymen during wartime."
Or, as the American Legion also eloquently reminds us, "We are also proud of their families, who have sacrificed so much. Long after the battlefield guns have been silenced and the bombs stop exploding, the children of our foreign warriors will still be missing a parent. Spouses will be without their life partners. Parents will continue to grieve for their heroic sons and daughters that died way too early. We need to be there for them -- not just as members of The American Legion Family -- but as American citizens. Nobody can replace these fallen heroes -- especially in the eyes of their families -- but we can offer shoulders to cry on, assistance with educational expenses and assurance that their loved one's sacrifice will not be forgotten."
As a nation, we honor the commitment of men and women who serve in harm's way by ensuring that they have every resource they need to defend themselves and prevail in battle. When these courageous soldiers return home with wounds or future health care needs, we must work to ensure that they have access to the best possible health care for physical and mental ailments. Our nation needs to modernize the educational benefits that are earned through military service. We also need to ensure that earned retirement benefits, disability compensation, and surviving spousal benefits match the commitment made by those who have served our nation.
On an issue that involves the faith and trust of every soldier and their families, our nation must return to the Prisoners of War/Missing in Action designation, or POW/MIA. That designation has long been used by the American military for soldiers who are being held as prisoners or who are missing in action while serving our nation. Unfortunately, the POW/MIA designation has been changed to: Missing-Captured Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown. POW/MIA is the only designation recognized by the Geneva Convention. Memorial Day would be a fitting time to restore the proper POW/MIA designation.
On Memorial Day, we must remember that were it not for the sacrifice of fallen heroes and burden their loved ones carry, we would not have the freedoms we enjoy. Their sacrifice is a vivid reminder that freedom is never free. Further, our nation must show its gratitude by forever recognizing their honor and commitment and by ensuring our soldiers and veterans have the support they deserve.