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Honoring Our All-volunteer Force

As we head into Memorial Day Weekend, Bush Institute Military Service Initiative Director Matthew Amidon reminds us how we can honor those who have lost their lives protecting our nation and freedoms.

Article by Col. Matthew F. Amidon, USMCR May 21, 2020 //   4 minute read

This Memorial Day weekend as we continue to keep those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and their families in our thoughts, let us also remember every member of our all-volunteer force. These are the men and women, the one percent, who took a sacred oath, "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same." In this, they commit themselves to the defense of our nation, whatever the cost.

That cost has been high.

Since our nation’s beginning, more than 650,000 of our own have fallen on the battlefield. Most recently, we have seen more than 4 million in our post-9/11 generation take that sacred oath. Over 3 million have deployed overseas to Iraq, Afghanistan, or other theaters of conflict— and over 7,000 of them have fallen.

This year as we safely gather in unique ways, we know that our sons and daughters are still standing the watch overseas in harm’s way. A constant reminder that the cost of our freedom, has and will continue to be high. “All gave some and some gave all” and for our Gold Star Families, every day is Memorial Day.

As we face contentious times, I take great comfort in knowing our all-volunteer force represents the best of our nation. Our servicemen and women are each unique, with their individual stories and backgrounds, but they are bonded under the ideal of service above self. They came from our towns and cities across America, from our high schools and college campuses, and from our communities. They joined for many reasons, yet all became part of something bigger than themselves, instilled with duty and purpose.

They fought and died for one another and for us.

Our fellow citizens have been defending this nation for more than 200 years, performing extraordinary duties under challenging circumstances. As we approach Memorial Day, we give thanks for their sacrifice, whether they fell in battle, in accidents or training.

As we reflect on the loss to our nation, we offer our condolences, deepest sympathies, and our most heartfelt gratitude. We honor those who fell as well as their families.

We also ask ourselves, how can we not only be a grateful nation, but also act as a grateful nation?

We can honor those who fell by ensuring their families who press onward and their comrades who return home from war have access and support to health and well-being resources, as well as pathways to meaningful education and career opportunities. This is our responsibility and our opportunity to ensure that words of remembrance are followed by actions to truly honor service and sacrifice.

As we gather this Memorial Day, let us embrace our mission to ensure the memory of those who fell is honored by actions of comfort and care to their families and opportunity to their comrades-in-arms.