(Senate - May 23, 2013)

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[Pages S3833-S3834]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                              MEMORIAL DAY

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, Monday, May 27, is Memorial Day--the 
day Americans set aside to honor the brave men and women in uniform who 
have made the greatest possible sacrifice for their country.
  Memorial Day was informally begun by MG John A. Logan, the head of an 
organization of Union Army Civil War veterans, in 1868. It is believed 
Major General Logan chose a date in late May because flowers would be 
in bloom all over the country. He asked the Nation to decorate the 
graves of the war dead with flowers.
  Mr. President, 1.1 million Americans have died defending the country 
in our Nation's wars. Freedom as we know it--here at home and around 
the world--would not exist without their heroism.
  The Commonwealth of Kentucky has played a vital role in this Nation's 
defense during our history. I am honored to represent Kentuckians in 
the Armed Forces, including those stationed at Fort Knox, Fort 
Campbell, the Blue Grass Army Depot, and members of the Reserves and 
Kentucky National Guard.
  At Fort Knox, the Memorial Day ceremony this year will continue a 
tradition of honoring the memory of one particular fallen soldier. This 
year, that soldier is PFC David P. Nash of Daviess County, KY.
  While serving in Vietnam on December 29, 1968, 20-year-old Private 
First Class Nash valiantly rolled on top of an exploding grenade to 
save the lives of three other soldiers. We must not forget the deeds of 
Private First Class Nash, or the many other men and women in uniform 
who gave their lives in service.
  Memorial Day is a day to honor their memories, and to let their loved 
ones know our country has not forgotten them. I know my fellow 
Kentuckians agree that we are honored to fly the flag which these brave 
heroes sought to protect.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I rise to recognize the importance of 
Memorial Day, a day that means so much to me, the Nation, and those I 
represent in Alaska. For many Alaskans, Memorial Day means the 
unofficial beginning of summer, sunlight, and enjoying the great 
  But let us never forget the deep, true meaning of Memorial Day. It is 
about taking time to pay respect, and appreciating the sacrifices of 
men and women who have defended the rights and privileges we enjoy 
today. On this solemn day in which Americans unite to remember our 
Nation's fallen, we also pray for our military personnel and their 
families, our veterans, and all who have lost loved ones.
  For over two centuries, brave men and women have laid down their 
lives in defense of our great Nation. These heroes have made the 
ultimate sacrifice so we may uphold the ideals we all cherish. Ordinary 
men and women of extraordinary courage have, since our earliest days, 
answered the call of duty with valor and unwavering devotion. America's 
sons and daughters have served with honor and distinction, securing our 
liberties and laying a foundation for lasting peace.
  Memorial Day officially began nearly 100 years before Alaskan 
statehood, but even in our territorial days we had Alaskans who fought 
on our own soil against foreign enemies--one of the few States that can 
say such a thing. It is because of those early successes--and the 
success of Alaskans from then to those deployed today--that we salute 
our flag.
  Although we may not be able to fully measure the cost of our heroes' 
sacrifice, we can commit ourselves to preserving their memory. So on 
Memorial Day 2013, I ask that we honor our fallen heroes, comfort the 
loved ones of those we lost, and carry on our lives in a manner that is 
worthy of their sacrifice. May God continue to bless our great Nation.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, as Memorial Day 2013 approaches, as our 
fellow Americans are making plans to have cookouts, enjoy the outdoors, 
and spend precious time with their loved ones, I believe we should 
remember that the reason we are able to enjoy these moments is because 
of the military servicemembers who have given ``the last full measure 
of devotion'' in the service of our great Nation. From the American 
Revolution to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, brave young men and 
women have always answered the call to fight for our country and for 
our freedom. They have made many sacrifices, and as we remember in 
particular those who have fallen, I am inspired by their courage and 
dedication to freedom. The death of each one of these service men and 
women represents not only a tragic loss to their loved ones, but to 
their community and to the country.
  This Memorial Day should be observed as a time for all Americans to 
reconnect with our history and core values by honoring those who gave 
their lives for the ideals we cherish. In addition to remembering the 
servicemembers who have fought and died in our Nation's wars, I believe 
that we must also take care of the servicemembers and veterans who are 
still with us. There are, regrettably, serious issues that still need 
to be addressed with regard to our military and veteran communities. 
Active-Duty military and veteran suicides are at record rates, Veterans 
Administration disability claims continue to be severely delayed, 
programs that assist discharged servicemembers transition to civilian 
life are still inadequate, and many of our servicemembers and veterans 
still lack the healthcare they need--and are entitled to--after a 
decade of war. I believe that we in the Congress must do everything we 
can do to remedy these problems. As George Washington famously said 
``The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in 
any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how 
they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by 
our Nation.'' I believe this statement has added weight and meaning and 
truth with our

[[Page S3834]]

Nation's movement to an all-volunteer military after the Vietnam War.
  With fewer than 1 percent of our Nation's population on active 
military duty, the gap between those who have served in uniform and 
those who have not has never been greater. These differences in life 
experiences have led to misguided perceptions of how each group views 
the other. The widening of this ``civilian-military gap'' makes it less 
likely that our servicemembers and veterans will properly reintegrate 
back into our society, and less likely that our best and brightest will 
pursue military service. As a society, we must address the problem. If 
we can't care for the service men and woman and their families who have 
made so many sacrifices on our behalf, then holidays such as Memorial 
Day end up having little relevance. One veteran I recently met with 
said to me, ``I fought proudly for my country in Afghanistan, but when 
I came back I didn't feel like I came back. I'm still waiting to feel 
like I came back.'' No American who has worn the uniform of this 
country should have to feel this way.
  Memorial Day is a day we Americans hold close to our hearts because 
in the sometimes hectic pace of our daily lives, we can forget just how 
fortunate we are. Memorial Day reminds us. Throughout this holiday 
weekend we will see many American flags and flowers adorning the graves 
of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation. I will 
especially remember in my thoughts and prayers the 127 Marylanders who 
have been killed in our most recent conflicts, and I will remind myself 
that our freedom isn't free. And I will remember that the best way to 
honor their ultimate sacrifice is to ensure that we are unwavering in 
our support to care for those who do return to us wounded, ill, and 
injured. This Memorial Day, let us affirm our commitment to those who 
have returned from the fields of battle as the best way to honor their 
fallen comrades.