On Memorial Day we honor and remember the men and women who have given their lives in service to the United States. These fallen heroes put their country, their neighbors, their friends before themselves and made the ultimate sacrifice defending our liberties. Some volunteered and some were drafted, but they all courageously answered the call to serve our country and died for our freedom and the freedom of others. 

On this day we must make time to remember the past and present. Sadly, the bodies of these heroes have fallen throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, the Middle East, and even here at home. It is imperative that we not just remember and honor the sacrifices of these individuals, but remember their families who live with the reality that mom, dad, brother, or daughter no longer sit at the kitchen table or celebrate tomorrow’s birthday. 

The men and women of our armed forces serve all Americans — Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals. At a time when it feels like we cannot be more divided, we should look to those in uniform as models for how we can fight for a shared goal, be on the same team, even if we do not all agree on everything. Today, we are united in our appreciation of their patriotism, courage, and commitment to our country. 

On this Memorial Day, a sacred day, we must remember not to take our liberty and our nation’s independence for granted – freedom requires sacrifice. As a Vietnam veteran for the United States Marine Corps, I understand the difficult sacrifices that our military members and their families endure on a daily basis. Every day of my life as I smell the flowers, hear the birds sing, feel the wind and enjoy my freedom, I am grateful for my safe return home. However, I also forever live with the constant memory and scars of those battlefields decades ago and remember my fellow Marines who did not return home. In Vietnam I lost several high school classmates — Jesus Martinez, Walter Merle Langford, and Leonel Buentello — I am grateful to them for their service and sacrifice.

This Memorial Day, I encourage us all to take a minute and think of the tremendous work and sacrifice required so that we may continue to enjoy our liberty and way of life. Today, honor the patriotism, courage, and valor of those who died defending this great nation of ours, the United States of America.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by state Sen. Juan Hinojosa of McAllen. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service with the permission of the author. Hinojosa can be reached by email via: [email protected]

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