Honoring our veterans on Memorial Day
May 27, 2002
As we celebrate Memorial Day this year, our country is reminded of the sacrifice and service of so many Americans who fought to keep our nation a free land. While we are recognizing our veterans this year, let's also keep in mind the men and women in our Armed Forces who are fighting a war on terrorism around the world. They need our continued support and our prayers.
Mississippi has a special role in the history of Memorial Day. Memorial Day began in Columbus, Mississippi, as "Decoration Day" when the widows of Confederate soldiers took it upon themselves to honor both the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.
Throughout our nation's history, Mississippians have played a leading role in serving our country. More than 235,000 Mississippians served in World War II. About 70,000 of them are still living today. Thousands of Mississippians lost their lives fighting for freedom in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Shield, and Desert Storm. We must never forget the service and sacrifice they made for America. Now, Mississippians are actively involved in fighting the war against terrorism.
We must always remember that freedom does not come without a price. We sometimes take for granted the many liberties we enjoy in America, but we should always remember that our freedom and our way of life was earned through the ultimate sacrifice paid by those serving in our armed forces. Thousands of soldiers died for our liberty, peace and stability.
They knew the risks associated with war and the threat to their lives when they put on their uniform and went off to follow orders. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude on this Memorial Day.
Many of us have a friend or relative who fought or gave their life for America. Remembering them is what Memorial Day is all about. Thanking our veterans for their courage and appreciating the many benefits from their heroism is something we can all agree on during the holiday-and that spirit of appreciation should last year round, not just on one day.
One way to show appreciation for our veterans is to strengthen our military today. Recently, I supported President Bush's budget for the year 2003 when it was submitted to Congress for consideration. This budget is the first post-September 11 budget and reflects our absolute commitment to achieving a more secure homeland.
This budget directs $37.7 billion to homeland security, up from $19.5 billion in 2002.
This budget focuses on four specific initiatives that are so important that they require immediate attention.
These are: 1) Supporting first responders to any terrorist attack; 2) Defending our country against bioterrorim; 3) Strengthening America's borders; and 4) Using 21st Century technology to protect America.
Earlier this month, I supported legislation that was approved by Congress called the National Defense Authorization Act of 2003 to provide the necessary resources for our Armed Forces. This bill includes a 4.1 percent pay raise for our men and women serving our country in the military. That's one way to show our support for our military.
Through your own way, please take the time this Memorial Day to remember our fallen soldiers. If you can, go to a local Memorial Day event and thank the veterans there while remembering those veterans who are no longer with us.
They deserve the highest praise of all.