Global Courant 2023-05-29 11:30:58
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Memorial Day is a chance for Americans to reflect on the freedoms they enjoy because of the sacrifices others have made to them, congressional lawmakers told Fox News.
“The only reason we enjoy the freedoms we enjoy in America is because of the sacrifice so many brave Americans have made,” Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, who served in the Marine Corps, told Fox News. “It is up to each generation to pass on this gift of freedom, this gift of self-government to the next generation.”
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL, said Memorial Day honors those who sacrificed their lives to ensure freedom in the US (Photographer: Anna Moneymaker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Rep. Dan Crenshaw said, “This is a day when we ask those who have not served or sacrificed or don’t know anyone who has sacrificed to at least think about those who do.”
For the Gold Star families who have lost someone, “every day is Memorial Day,” said Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL who lost an eye while serving in Afghanistan.
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Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, has been celebrated in the US for over 150 years since it was first commemorated in 1868. That year, Americans visited Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and other resting places to decorate the graves of fallen troops.
The Civil War had ended just three years earlier and was estimated to have cost 620,000 lives.
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“We live in the freest country in the world and it’s no coincidence,” said Representative Jim McGovern. “It’s because brave men and women sacrifice their lives to protect this country.”
A trumpeter from the US Navy Ceremonial Band plays “Taps” during military funeral tributes at Arlington National Cemetery. (US Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery)
Rep. Jimmy Gomez agreed: “We must remember that these sacrifices are made by humans.”
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“They’re done by brothers, done by sisters, they’re done by parents, and we have to make sure they’re always recognized and taken care of,” Gomez said.
According to the Pentagon, there are more than 1.3 million active-duty military personnel in the armed forces. The Department of Defense is also supported by 750,000 civilian personnel and more than 811,000 members of the National Guard and Reserve.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee visits a veteran’s cemetery in her district every year to commemorate Memorial Day. (Fox News Digital/Jon Michael Raasch)
“It is now more important than ever that we commemorate Memorial Day, because when our country seems so divided, all these freedoms that we have earned over the years come on the backs and blood of those brothers and sisters who have served us. have preceded us,” Representative Jake Ellzey, a Navy veteran, told Fox News.
“I think it helps to bring unity at a time when we clearly need it in this country where we have threats abroad and threats at home,” he continued.
Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee said, “We wouldn’t be a nation, we wouldn’t be patriots if we didn’t celebrate Memorial Day.”
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Memorial Day is about “those who didn’t get a chance to come home and live this amazing life,” said Representative Tim Burchett.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, whose district includes a naval airbase, said: “I come from a community where people go deep into battle, and Memorial Day is a time for reflection, for honoring the fallen, and realizing what it really takes to keep humming the greatest country in the world.”
Click here to watch full interviews with lawmakers on the importance of Memorial Day.
Jon Michael Raasch is an associate producer/writer at Fox News Digital Originals.