Above all, this we’ll defend

Published 9:59 pm Friday, May 24, 2013

By Rep. Randy Forbes

Always courageous. Always faithful. Always ready. Above all. This we’ll defend.

These mottos represent each of the five service branches of our military. They are at the core of what our men and women in uniform stand for as they serve our nation each day. Behind every one of these mottos is the face of a person — a father, a sister, a neighbor, a son — who lives these calls to action in times of physical hardship, camaraderie, sacrifice, surrender, peace, bravery, loyalty and pain. Behind each of those mottos, triumphs have been met. Hope has been extended. The ultimate sacrifice has been paid.

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For more than a century, our nation has taken time out of the year to mark special tribute to the men and women who have bravely given their lives in service of our nation. Today we know that day as Memorial Day, which specifically honors those who died in military service. On this day, we express our deep appreciation to those who gave everything for our freedoms, and unite in prayer for the families who have lost loved ones.

It is our privilege to honor these heroes and to share the unique legacies each has left throughout chapters in our nation’s history. For many Americans, there is no question about how they will honor our military heroes on Memorial Day: they will remember a friend, visit a loved one’s gravesite, or pull out old photo albums of a father or daughter.

Still, many more Americans may be unsure of how to observe the true meaning of Memorial Day. As you are making Memorial Day plans, here are 10 ideas you and your family can consider as a way of commemorating Memorial Day this year:

1. Place an American flag on the grave of a veteran. See a listing of veteran’s cemeteries in Virginia at www.cem.va.gov/cems/listcem.asp.

2. Thank a veteran or a military family.

3. Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time. More information is available on the Department of Veterans Affairs website, www.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday.

4. Read stories about men and women who gave their all for their country. Stories of World War II heroes are available at www.mymemorialday.org/remember.

5. Teach your children about the importance of Memorial Day. Find activities and resources at www.va.gov/kids.

6. Display a poppy flower as a tribute to those who have given their lives. Read the history of the poppy flower and Memorial Day at www.va.gov/opa/publications/celebrate/flower.pdf.

7. Tour the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall virtually. Visit “View the Wall” at www.viewthewall.com.

8. Display an American flag. See guidelines for displaying the American flag at www.va.gov/opa/publications/celebrate/flagdisplay.pdf.

9. Have a moment of prayer and remembrance during your family barbecue.

10. Attend a local Memorial Day event. A list of Memorial Day events in Virginia is available at www.virginia.org/memorialday.

 

This Memorial Day, many of us will gather and enjoy the company of family and good friends. As we do so, “Taps” will ring out in ceremonies across the country. As the bugle player slowly lowers his horn, he will salute, and a quiet hush will fall. As it does, may we be inspired by our heroes’ legacies.

May we remember in that moment those who were always courageous, always faithful, always ready, and — above all — answered the call of our nation.

Congressman J. Randy Forbes represents Virginia’s Fourth District, which includes Suffolk, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Visit his website at forbes.house.gov.