Senator Murray's remarks follow:
Thank you, Chaplain Nash. I'm honored to join all of you to remember the men and women in uniform who gave their lives defending our country and defending our freedom.
I want to welcome all of our special guests – including - General Hilman, Major Thomas, Admiral Smith, the Veterans Cemetery Board of Trustees, all of our active duty, National Guard and Reserves, and all those who serve our country. I especially want to thank Skip Dreps and Judy Faaberg and staff for the outstanding job they do organizing this fantastic event.
On this day, in communities large and small, in "fields of honor" and in Houses of Worship, in broad public ceremonies and in the quiet of the human heart, we give thanks.
Ever since the Civil War, Americans have come together in the springtime to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. Over many decades, this tradition has become a national holiday and an important part of our heritage. Today, here in Seattle, we continue that sacred tradition to honor their service and remember their sacrifice.
This year, many in our state have made the ultimate sacrifice in the War on Terrorism. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends.
Today, we remember the brave Americans who gave their lives in all wars – those who gave their last full measure of devotion storming an enemy beach, flying over hostile land, sailing deadly waters, marching through mud, trudging through rice paddies, and camping in distant deserts. They will never be forgotten.
The Fallen Built America
We are lucky to be Americans – to be safe, free, and a beacon to the world. The America we love did not come about by accident. It was built – hand by hand – by those who died for our country. With their fight, they laid the foundation of our freedom. With their sacrifice, they built our safety and security. And with their valor, they sealed the values that we carry forward today.
Each of us owes a heavy debt those who built America with – their honor, their service, and their lives.
Before I introduce our keynote speaker, I want to share part of a song that was written for Memorial Day. I think it captures what we're trying to honor at this ceremony.
"On this day for one brief moment
Hear the silence fill the air.
Think of those, who walked beside us; Now no longer there...
Make us humble, Make us knowing, And reflect on what is do...
On this day For now, forever Make this nation one."
Now it is my pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker, Brigadier General Oscar Hilman, commander general of the 81st Brigade. General Hilman joined the U.S. military in 1969. He has had a distinguished military career. Three years ago this month, General Hilman assumed command of the 81st Brigade.
Recently, he led more than 3,000 Washington National Guard soldiers in Iraq. It was the largest call-up of Washington's Guard and Reserve units since World War II.
I met with him at Camp Murray before they were deployed. And while they were in Iraq, I worked with General Hilman to make sure his soldiers had everything they needed.
In all my dealings with him, I've been impressed by his commitment to completing the mission and protecting his soldiers. Please join me in welcoming a man who serves our country with pride and distinction, Brigadier General Oscar Hilman.