For many, Memorial Day is the start of summer – a day for a barbeque with friends, the first day the pool is open, or perhaps just a well-needed day off. However, for those of us who served and the families of our fallen, Memorial Day is bittersweet.

While Memorial Day brings the memories of our loved ones to the forefront of our minds, it also serves as a stark reminder of all we have lost in the many battles to keep America free and prevent tyranny from ruling this land.

It is a reminder of the brave men and women, our friends, family, and comrades, who sacrificed everything so we, and the rest of our nation, may gather without fear. 

It is a reminder to go through the mental rolodex of those we have lost.

It is a reminder that even today after the war in Afghanistan was ended, others still stand in the gap to fight oppression and ensure our national security.

It is a reminder that we as a people, and as a nation, should be ever grateful for their sacrifice.

It is a reminder that there, but for the grace of God, go I.

Let us never take our military for granted and on this day, gather reverently in remembrance. As President John F. Kennedy said, “…as we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

As we honor all those who came before, those who paid that ultimate price, let us too remember those who follow in their footsteps and stand ready in service for the security of our freedom.

May God bless our fallen service members, our current active-duty service members, their families, and the United States of America.

May we all live a life worthy of their sacrifice.

Patricia Ross
Commissioner, Georgia Department of Veterans Service