Originally referred to as 'Decoration Day,' Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971. So how do you observe Memorial Day? Is it through picnics, family gatherings, parades, or visiting cemeteries and placing flowers at soldier's graves? It is not so important how you celebrate but rather, it is important that you take the time to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom and to honor their desire to leave the world better than they found it.
Memorial Day serves as a time for all Americans to come together and honor those who gave all. Today we gather to remember those we've lost, to support their families and to celebrate their soldier's legacy of selflessness for the sake of freedom.
For centuries we have sent our fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, relatives and friends to war.
They fight to bring stability in the most unstable regions of the world. They also bring education, critical medical needs, and often times the building blocks of a democratic society where tyrants once ruled. They serve us abroad and they serve us at home. For example, this past January, many parts of Georgia were hit with debilitating winter weather.
Georgia's own National Guard soldiers came to our rescue to assist in transporting snowbound Grady Memorial Hospital staff to their critical jobs at the hospital despite the treacherous Atlanta roads. There is no way of knowing how many lives might have been lost without our soldiers assisting our vital medical personnel during that storm. When people need care, strength, support, or protection-both at home and away-our soldiers are always ready to serve.
We are thankful for the many ways these soldiers make their communities better and we are humbled that there are so many who not only volunteer to serve in hostile combat zones, but even yearn to be on the front lines. Their bravery and commitment to God and country is immeasurable. We must never lose sight of the fact that we, as one nation under God, stand on the shoulders of the young men and women who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Nor can we forget that our future as a nation leans on those who stand strong on the front lines today.
Since that dreadful day almost ten years ago when our nation was attacked, Georgia and her families have lost 446 soldiers in the line of duty.
Many more soldiers sacrificed their lives during the centuries before the 9-11 attacks. Almost every one of us knows a family who has sacrificed a loved one in defense of the freedom that many around the world will never know, a freedom that many others will only dream of.
As we reflect on Memorial Day, remember these soldiers and ask yourself what you can do to reach out to a soldier or a soldier's family. Ask yourself how you can celebrate the courage and will of all American military members who have given their lives for your freedom and the nation you call home.
The best way to honor the memory of those we have lost is to serve and pray for those left behind and to aide those soldiers that still put their lives in danger each day to protect freedom and democracy throughout the world.
I am honored to serve as your legislator and voice at the State Capitol, but I know my work pales in comparison to the service of those who willingly place themselves in harms way protecting this nation.
Celebrate these brave men and women, and keep their memories in your heart today and every day after.