The land of the free and home of the brave – while the words of our National Anthem were penned over 200 years ago, this time-honored phrase rightly describes this great nation we call home today. America’s history has been cemented by the brave men and women who have fought tirelessly to defend it from threats both at home and on battlefields in distant lands.
Memorial Day is a time to remember the sacrifices of the men and women of our Armed Forces. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their life in defense of our freedoms as Americans. They are the sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, and friends who we will never forget. While nothing we do can repay the cost these men and women have paid or take away the grief their families and loved ones have experienced, it is our duty to honor their service by ensuring that America remains true to the principles upon which it was founded.
Recently, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which provides the necessary resources for a strong national defense to make certain the U.S. military is ready and capable to defend our liberties. This bipartisan legislation improves troop and military family benefits while also taking steps to reduce waste and ensure that our defense programs are operating efficiently. The House also passed several bills to provide additional support for veterans. The Veteran’s I.D. Card Act would create a new I.D. card for veterans to document their service instead of carrying around official service records, which contain sensitive personal information and may put them at risk of identity theft. Another bill, the Ensuring VA Accountability Act, would hold VA employees responsible for their conduct. The House also reauthorized the Homeless Veteran Re-Integration Program, which would make grants available for job training programs to community organizations that serve homeless veterans.
To say you are an American is much more than a confession of your nationality or culture. It shouldn’t just explain your country of citizenship or where your roots are planted. To say you are an American should carry the same weight that it did for our Founding Fathers. We will fight for freedom, we will preserve liberty, and we will remain united together, despite the odds, to pursue that dream. No one knows this better than the many men and women who have met that calling with their lives – they are our best, our bravest, and on this Memorial Day, we remember them.
Bob Gooflatte represents Virginia’s Sixth District in Congress.