My father, a retired Army officer and Vietnam veteran, is fond of saying that the profession of arms is the most noble of callings –that there is no other act as selfless as service to our nation. As we observe National Military Appreciation month and prepare for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, this sentiment is all the more appropriate. Our warfighters and their supporters know that this holiday is more than a department store sales event. This month serves as a reminder to many that freedom isn’t free.
To help solidify that reminder, here are some thoughts from the Secretaries of the Military Departments about what this month means to them.
“This month we recognize the men and women who wear the uniform of our great nation in defense of the freedoms and liberties of all Americans. From observing Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Armed Forces Day, to the anniversary of VE Day and the somber remembrance of Memorial Day, perhaps no month is more fitting than May to serve as National Military Appreciation Month.
“Military Appreciation Month offers all Americans the chance to show their support for our Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and coasties – active duty, guard and reserve. It’s also especially fitting to recognize the sacrifice of our wounded warriors, and the support and dedication of our military families.
“Let’s pause to remember the fallen, remain steadfast in our commitment to those who serve, and say thank you to their husbands and wives, sons and daughters, all of whom have sacrificed much so that we may live in freedom.”
“There is the courage displayed on the field of battle, and then there is the courage to fight against the odds, overcome adversity, and emerge stronger than before. Our Wounded Warriors have exhibited both kinds of courage and represent the best of our men and women in uniform. They did their jobs, now we must do ours by supporting them, their families, the caregivers, and others who give of their time and talents on behalf of our warriors. I am fortunate because my job allows me the opportunity to visit with Sailors and Marines deployed across the globe, sacrificing for our nation every day. I use those opportunities to shake the hands of as many military personnel as I can, and to offer a thanks, on behalf of a grateful nation. I only wish I could thank you all. You make up the greatest expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known, and the nation will not forget the sacrifices you have made in defense of freedom everywhere.”
“Wherever they serve, at home or abroad, our Armed Forces work tirelessly to preserve our liberties and freedoms. Although we have learned through the ages that freedom is something we have to be willing to fight for to protect, we can never forget the price of protecting those freedoms – a price primarily paid by those in uniform and their families.
“I have no hesitation in telling you that today’s generation of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen is America’s next greatest generation. Doing all we can to support them, to support the families of the fallen, and to support our wounded warriors is one of the best ways we can express our thanks to the patriots who did their part by serving our country. As a nation, we will always remain grateful for their selfless service and sacrifice. We owe these heroes nothing less.”
Art Murguia is a retired Army major and now serves as a Special Assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.