“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Since those words were written in 1776, soldiers have fought to defend the ideals defined in our Declaration of Independence. They have fought not just for that independence, but for liberty, freedom, and equality.
These are more than just words on a page, they represent our unalienable Rights. They define who we are and what we are as a people. These Rights have been worth defending since before we were a country and then enshrined in our Constitution after we won the Revolutionary War.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
For 230 years, men and women have put on the uniforms of our armed forces and sworn an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Throughout that time, millions have served, and thousands have died.
Today, we honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation and all that we stand for. Several years ago, I wrote that it wasn’t enough just to remember, we must honor the memory.
As hatred and isolationism grow in the United States and around the world, as the press more frequently comes under attack, as our institutions are circumvented, and our very Constitution is questioned, I wonder if we’re truly honoring the memory of all those who have served and sacrificed.
We are still more divided than united when it comes to politics and policy.
Our armed forces do not represent red or blue states, they represent the United States. There are no Democrat soldiers or Republican soldiers, there are American soldiers.
Today, as we reflect with respect on the service and sacrifice of so many, we should pledge to either put aside or embrace our differences and work to uphold the ideals of unity so many fought and died for.
If we are going to honor their memory and their sacrifice, we must adhere to the same ideals, pledge the same allegiance, and respect the same Constitution.
We honor their sacrifice not with ceremonies and celebrations, but with actions and words.
We honor their sacrifice with a commitment to truth, knowledge, and fact.
We honor their sacrifice with respect, empathy, and care for each other.
We honor their sacrifice by being informed, engaged, and holding ourselves, and each other, accountable.
We honor their sacrifice by continuing to form a more perfect union, not by dividing and demeaning each other.
As I pay my respects to those who have given all in service to this great nation, I pledge to do more and ask each of you to join me. Each action we take, regardless of how large or small, honors those who have sacrificed.
Words can never convey the deep respect, admiration, and appreciation
I have for those who have defended our country and its ideals. I am thankful for everyone who has ever worn
the uniform and sworn the oath. Today,
as every day, I’m humbled to recognize those who gave all in service to the
Today is Memorial Day, but we should live as if every day is.