Remarks by Senator Patty Murray on Memorial Day

May 31 2004

Mountain View Memorial Park - Lakewood, Washington

I am deeply honored to be here with all of you today as we honor the service and sacrifice of our country’s veterans -- those who are with us, and those we have lost.

Today, in “fields of honor” like this one – in every community of America – millions of people are gathered – as we are – to send a message of thanks.

In Washington, D.C. today, thousands are gathered on the grounds of the National World War II Memorial. This new memorial is located on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. It pays a long overdue tribute to everyone who helped us fight and win the Second World War.

Today our country in united is honoring all those who have answered the call and protected our land, our people, and our values. But this is not just a national day of remembrance. For many here today, this is a very personal occasion as we remember grandfathers, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters.

On this Memorial Day, we remember the soldiers, sailors, airmen and others who didn’t come home.

More than 8,500 Washington state residents have their names inscribed on the Wall of Remembrance outside Benaroya Hall in Seattle. And we just added names of 17 Washington state residents who died in the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today we are also mindful of those who can’t attend a ceremony like this because they are wearing a uniform and serving our country on Memorial Day. So today we also honor the newest generation of combat veterans, many still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are committed to caring for their families during this difficult period of separation. And we will fight together to make sure we care for these combat veterans when they come home whether they need jobs, training, support or healthcare.

They are there for us, and we must be there for them.

On this Memorial Day, we also honor the veterans who are with us – those who served our country in war and then came home to build families, communities and the most prosperous and free country in the world. Many of those honored veterans are here with us today, and I want to say thank you. Because of your sacrifice, Americans have been able to go to school, raise a family and live the American dream. Because of your commitment, our country continues to shine a bright light of freedom on the world’s darkest corners. Because of your service, we can speak our minds, practice our faith, and follow our dreams. So thank you. Thank you for answering the call.

Thank you for serving in places and in circumstances that few of us can imagine.

And thank you for making sure that the America you grew up in is the same free, proud and honorable America that our grandchildren are growing up in today.

God bless you.