05.26.14

Memorial Day Message from Senator Burr

As we celebrate Memorial Day, let us take a moment to remember the true meaning of the holiday: to honor those service members who have sacrificed for our nation. Upon entry to the United States military, these brave men and women take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, our country, and our freedom, even if it means paying the ultimate price. For those who pay this price, we express our deepest gratitude.

Let us also remember the families who were left behind - they paid dearly for our freedom as well. Remember to honor them just as we would those who have fought on the front lines. Because of their sacrifice, we owe them the support and care they deserve.

As I spend time reflecting on the great sacrifice our fallen soldiers have made, I think of a recent trip I took with members of theCommittee onVeterans' Affairs. We visitedeightoverseas American cemeteries as part of a Congressional Delegation. The American Battle Monuments Commission uniquely serves our country by acting as the guardian of America's overseas cemeteries and memorials that honor the service and sacrifice of our military. The Commission maintains these cemeteries and memorials by caring for the landscape, gravesite upkeep, and visitor center restoration; more importantly, it acts as a liaison and storyteller between the cemeteries' rich history and the public. Guides are passionate about their positions and understand the importance of keeping the stories alive. They ensure that even though these brave men and women are gone, they are never forgotten.

During the visit, a wreath was laid at each cemetery honoring those who gave their lives for our freedom. We also had theprivilege of visiting the gravesites of menand women from our home state. At Lorraine American Cemetery in France,Ivisited the graves ofMajor George Preddy and First Lieutenant WilliamPreddy,twobrothers from Greensboro, North Carolina. The Preddy brothers were both pilots with the U.S. Army Air Forces and fought in World War II, flying P-51 Mustangs. The Preddy brothers both died while serving their country and are buried alongside one another.

While visiting Florence American Cemetery in Italy, I also had the honor to learn of Technician 4th Class Harry B. Morgan from Charlotte, North Carolina. Morgan was an Army still photographer assigned to the 3131st Signal Service; he and other members of his unit are mentioned in the book, The Last Farewell, Army Sgt. Edmund Burke O'Connell's final farewell to post-war Italy. On November 12, 1944, Morgan was wounded in action and later died.

Every headstone has a story; these are just two of the many inspiring tales told by thedocentswiththe American Battle Monuments Commission. If you ever have a chance to go overseas, I highly recommend researching and visiting one of the memorials or cemeteries, witness their humbling beauty, and speak with those who tell the stories first hand. Most importantly, honor the men and women, buried abroad and at home, for their sacrifice.

This Memorial Day, let us remember all of those who fought in our nation's wars and gave their lives for us. Without their service, the America we know would not exist. Without their sacrifice, we would not live in a country where we may live and speak freely without fear of punishment. To the men and women who died for our freedom, and to their families, thank you and God bless you.