Photo: Memorial Day
This Memorial Day, we honor our nation’s service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Today, we pause to reflect on the service of the brave men and women who left their homes and their families, some never to return, in order to protect their country and advance the pursuit of security and prosperity the world over.
The demise of Osama bin Laden earlier this month represents the end of a chapter in American history. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, more than 1,500 servicemen and women have been killed in Afghanistan. As we observe this grim milestone, we are also humbled by the remembrance of the 4,400 service members who have fallen in operations in Iraq. These figures do not include the more than 11,000 service members wounded in Afghanistan and more than 30,000 wounded in Iraq.
As we begin winding down our military involvement in Afghanistan this summer and complete the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of the year, it is appropriate to take this opportunity as a country to reflect on all that our troops and their families have sacrificed over the past 10 years.
Americans are united across class, gender, race, and politics by their sincere wish for the swift and safe return of our men and women in uniform. Our active duty and reserve soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coast guardsmen honor their fallen comrades’ legacies by continuing to serve their country both domestically and internationally in many capacities. This year, our troops not only continued to serve with distinction in both Iraq and Afghanistan but also worked to protect civilians in Libya and provide humanitarian relief in the wake of Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
For their sacrifice, these men and women deserve more than our respect; they deserve to be supported by programs and policies that improve their quality of life both during and after service.