By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
Earlier this week, we took a day to remember our veterans and fallen heroes who have sacrificed their lives for our country.
We have all heard the famous quote: “Freedom is not free.” And it is good that we take time to remember those who have given their lives so that we can be safe and free.
Since the Civil War, Americans have taken a day each year to recognize our veterans, and Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Americans have always done a good job of showing our appreciation for our county and those who have fought and died to preserve our freedom. We have set aside Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day, and the 4th of July in honor of our country and our veterans.
But when these holidays come, I can’t help but also think about the families who have lost their loved ones fighting for America. For these families, every day is Memorial Day.
For these families, those names etched in a wall on a monument are not just a list of fallen heroes. Those names are a son or daughter, a mother or father, a brother or sister.
And for many veterans, they carry the weight of having lost a friend in combat. Like those families, these veterans feel the loss of their fallen brothers and sisters each and every day.
For these veterans and families, Memorial Day is not just a holiday. It is a sacred time to honor the sacrifice that their loved ones made so that we could all enjoy the freedom and security that we enjoy.
So when we celebrate holidays like Memorial Day and Veterans Day, I think it is important that we consider the full price we have paid for our freedom. It is not just the fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who have paid for our freedom. Their families and friends have also paid the price.
The children who grow up without their mother or father have paid the price.
The parents who had to bury their children have paid the price.
The wives who have buried their husbands and the husbands who have buried their wives have paid the price.
And I hope that, as a country, we will not limit ourselves to only remembering these fallen heroes on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. I hope we will honor all of our veterans and their families each and every day.
I hope you will set aside a moment each day to remember our fallen heroes and their families. You can say a prayer or just sit in silence for a minute and consider the price that has been paid. If you do, I think you will find that days like Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Independence Day will take on a new and special meaning.
Representative Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden. He has served in the Alabama House of Representatives since 2000. In 2010, Representative Ford was elected House Minority Leader by the House Democratic Caucus. He was re-elected Minority Leader in 2012.