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Skelton urges Missourians: Remember purpose of upcoming Memorial Day
Skelton urges Missourians: Remember purpose of upcoming Memorial Day

Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 24, 2010) — On Memorial Day, millions of people across the nation will take time to remember and pay their respects to loved ones and fellow Americans who have lost their lives while serving our country. This year, as America fights wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, more names have been added to our nation’s roll of honor. Each name represents the loss of a life full of promise, but behind every name can be found a family, a circle of friends, and a community that will never be the same.

After World War I, a poet taking inspiration from an ancient epitaph wrote the following verse: “When you go home; Tell them of us, and say; For their tomorrow; We gave our today.” The sentiment of this poem aptly reminds us of the debt we owe to our service members for their sacrifices, but also implores us to remember and share their stories so that this nation never forgets the prices paid by those who protect our freedoms.

All of us can take tremendous pride in the performance of our service men and women, past and present. But military operations carry a heavy cost, and every time someone is hurt or gives his or her life in the service of our country, I am reminded that freedom is not free. That is why our country has an obligation to express our gratitude to the troops in meaningful ways.

So, to publicly recognize and honor those fighting for our freedoms, Congress designated the month of May as “National Military Appreciation Month.” Culminating with Memorial Day on May 31 of this year, Military Appreciation Month provides the American people with a time to remember our warriors and their families — both past and present — and show our support for these faithful public servants.

Over the past weeks, I have met with several veterans groups to thank them for their years of service and to ask how the government can better care for our returning warriors. I found the conversations enlightening and productive. In Jefferson City, for example, members of the local Disabled American Veterans (DAV) chapter spoke with me for the better part of an hour about the challenges of providing mental healthcare to young veterans returning from service in the Middle East.

Also in honor of Military Appreciation Month, I introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives recognizing the sacrifices of all military personnel who have served since WWI and thanking our warfighters and veterans for all that they do. My friend and Republican colleague from the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon, joined me in sponsoring this resolution.

I hope you join me this Memorial Day in thanking our troops and veterans for all they have given and sacrificed for our country. You can send a package, write a letter of encouragement, or offer a simple “thank you” to a service member, National Guardsman, or veteran in your community. Or, for a list of national organizations that accept donations, letters, or volunteers, go to www.ourmilitary.mil/help.shtml. No gesture is too small, as I have seen first-hand how much a few words of appreciation can mean. Missouri has always been a welcome home for the U.S. military; let’s keep that tradition strong this Memorial Day.

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at www.house.gov/skelton.

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