WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Texans gather with our loved ones and friends in the coming days to celebrate Thanksgiving, I am reminded that so many of our blessings would not be possible without the contributions of our men and women in uniform—past and present—and the families who support them from the homefront.

From a young age, I was fortunate to learn the value of military service from my father, a career Air Force officer who served as a B-17 pilot in World War II. On his 26th mission over Germany, he was shot down by the Nazis and spent several months in a POW camp before General Patton’s troops freed him and his fellow service members. He instilled in me a love for our country and a deep respect for those who serve. Likewise, I learned these valuable lessons from my father-in-law, who stormed Utah Beach 70 years ago. We sadly lost him earlier this year, and he will be sorely missed by all of us this Thanksgiving.

Indeed, the many freedoms we enjoy have been secured since the birth of our nation by men and women willing to risk everything for this country. Each summer, I have the privilege of meeting our next generation of military leaders, when I host an annual send-off ceremony to recognize the young Texans joining our nation’s military academies.

They represent some of the brightest and most determined young people in our state, and we’re fortunate that they choose to dedicate their talents and make a commitment to serving our country. I’m thankful for their willingness to serve, and I’m encouraged by their incredible potential.

As these young men and women don their crisp uniforms for the first time, they are linked in spirit to the generations of great American patriots who came before them. Though much has changed—including the enemy, the battlefields, and the weaponry—the values and courage of our service members remain the same.

I see that commitment, that sense of duty, and that bravery in the faces of every warrior I meet—from the nation’s oldest living veteran, Richard Overton, who at 108 years young resides in Austin, Texas, to a soldier I met at Fort Hood who was injured by the senseless shooting that rocked that close-knit community earlier this year. Still in recovery at the hospital, this young hero wrote a note that to me represents the spirit and dedication of all his fellow service members. He wrote: “Sir how’s everyone doing? Let everyone know I’m doing good and we’ll all get through this as a family/team.”

As Texans give thanks for our blessings, I hope each of us will count among our greatest blessings the men and women who have and continue to place their lives in harm’s way to ensure our freedoms, our safety and our way of life. We give thanks for their service and the sacrifices their families have made, and we pray for the safe return of those who are miles from home.

May God bless you and yours abundantly this Thanksgiving.

John Cornyn is the senior U.S. senator for Texas. He serves on the Finance and Judiciary Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.