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The Book of John tells us that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” So as we celebrate Memorial Day today, remember what it is we are recognizing. We are honoring the hundreds of thousands of men and women – our family members, our friends, and our neighbors – who chose something greater than themselves.

We are honoring those who gave all that they had. These were men and women who risked their safety, and ultimately gave their lives, in defense of our freedom and security.

Memorial Day caps of a month of remembrance. Days have been established at the state and national levels reminding us of the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served our communities and our country. Earlier this month we marked the sacrifices of first responders – and more specifically, police officers – with National Police Week and Peace Officers’ Memorial Day. And now, today, we remember and honor the military men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation.

We have faced many difficult challenges this year as a state and as a nation. This includes losing 100,000 American lives to the COVID-19 pandemic, facing an abrupt and unprecedented slowing of the economy, and suffering substantial unemployment and other economic harms as a result.

But we must never forget who we are as a nation. The United States was founded on the ideals of liberty and equality and is the freest nation in the history of the world. It is precisely in times of crisis like this that we must stand by our values and reinforce the principles that made America great.

We did not get our freedoms by accident or happenstance. Hundreds of thousands of brave Americans spilled their blood and gave their lives to make it happen. Memorial Day gives us the opportunity to remember their boldness, their courage and their sacrifice. We should remember this every day.

We owe these heroes a debt that we can never repay. But as President Reagan reminded us many years ago, we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice. Honor their sacrifice through your actions every day.

Appreciate the gifts that we have – the freedoms that we enjoy – but never forget that they were not granted to us by luck or by some accident of history. They were given to us by our fallen brothers and sisters.

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