Opinion: Reflect on sacrifices that ensured our freedom

MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY

This is the time of year we pause to reflect on those who paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy. Like so many things we do, a day like Memorial Day can become routine and just like any other day. The United States has been blessed like no other nation on Earth and we have so many to thank for those blessings. A Creator who loves us; a nation that allows people to imagine, create, and develop; an education system that broadens our minds; and a military full of men and women who are willing to lay down their lives so that this country can continue being the greatest country that has ever existed.

We often hear the term, “Never Forget.” This is a challenge to us because it truly is important. Each year during this time, our Georgia National Guard family pauses to remember those who have given all of their tomorrows for our today. We have a Memorial Wall at our headquarters to honor the fallen. Like many monuments across our nation, you will find names and faces etched in granite. The diversity of these individuals is a representation of America and is a part of what makes our nation the lighthouse for freedom in the world. They were husbands, wives, parents, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and friends from all walks of life.

Combined ShapeCaption
Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, Georgia Adjutant General.

Credit: contributed

Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, Georgia Adjutant General.

Credit: contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, Georgia Adjutant General.

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

They are loved, they are respected, and they are missed. May we remember them for as long as we stand. When you think of the human cost and the fact that soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and guardians volunteer to give everything, up to and including their lives, it truly is amazing, and we should be thankful for those willing to put it all on the line for this great country.

According to most published reports, there have been over 1.1 million fatalities in all U.S. wars combined. While it is very easy to gloss over numbers, let’s put that figure into perspective. You would have to fill Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Truist Park, State Farm Arena, Sanford Stadium and Bobby Dodd Stadium four times to reach that number. Today, as we honor those who paid the ultimate price, please pause for a moment and really consider the cost.

A part of this day that often gets overlooked are the family members of those who paid the ultimate price. Our Gold Star families are left with the pain and loneliness associated with the loss of a loved one. Many are left to carry on as a single parent while all of them must adjust to a new normal that most of us will never experience or understand. If you know someone who lost a loved one in our nation’s wars, please take a moment to give them a call or send them a note thanking them for the sacrifices they have made.

Our actions always carry more credibility than our words. I encourage you to resist allowing Memorial Day to become a routine. It offers us the opportunity to be thankful and reflect on the blessings of freedom while also taking a moment to remember those who paid for it with their lives.

I pray you all have a blessed Memorial Day and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden is adjutant general of Georgia’s Department of Defense.