Earlier today, Heidi and I had the tremendous honor of attending the Memorial Day Ceremony at Houston National Cemetery. As patriots across our nation gather to remember and honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, I wanted to share with you my remarks from this morning’s ceremony:
Thank you very much, and God bless our veterans. My wife Heidi and I are honored to be with you today.
We gather here today to remember the heroes who have kept us free.
Each marker here represents a story, some told and some untold. Heroes who span generations.
Heroes like the Honorable Albert Thomas, who served as a Lieutenant in World War I, and then went on to represent Houston for nearly 30 years in Congress, and in large part, played a key role in the reason we stand on this green today.
Medal of Honor Recipients like First Lieutenant Raymond Knight, who completed more than 80 combat missions in World War II.
And First Sergeant David McNerney, who volunteered to serve a third tour in Vietnam.
In one particularly harrowing attack, more than half of his platoon was killed or wounded.
Even after being injured, he fearlessly led a counterattack, saving men who were in the grip of their enemies, and climbed atop a tree to guide friendly aircraft to a safe landing.
These are just a few of the patriots who have given their utmost for liberty.
The men and women buried here have not simply known freedom; they have embodied it.
More than 30,000 Texans have lost their lives in defense of this nation.
As James Garfield said in the 1868 Decoration Day Address – what would come to be known as the very first Memorial Day – “For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”
It is breathtaking to think of all the souls under this green earth who laid down their lives so that we might be free.
Their sacrifice is the very sapling of liberty.
Today Heidi and I brought our two precious little girls, Caroline and Catherine, to be with us today, and as we together lay flags on the graves of heroes, may the stripes of those flags remind us of the blood shed so that freedom shines forth for all generations.
So that my daughters, and your sons and daughters, and grandchildren, and their grandchildren may always enjoy the blessings of this great nation. Today, our hearts are filled with gratitude for their bravery. May we never forget it.