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Memorial Day 2012

May 25, 2012

CHAIRMAN’S CORNER

We are blessed in this country to have so many who step forward to wear our nation’s uniform. There are no harder working or dedicated people on earth than our Armed Forces and veterans. Our fellow citizens have stood up for more than two centuries to defend the principles we hold most dear. Therefore, we must never lose sight of the real significance of this weekend. Memorial Day is first and foremost a time to remember the men and women who have served and now lay in peace. I hope each of you will take time out of family celebrations, barbeques, and other events to reflect upon the service and sacrifice of those who have served. Let us also say a prayer for the families of the fallen. That is the true meaning of Memorial Day and we should never let commercialism distract us from paying our respects to those who honorably served this country on the last Monday of each May, or any day of the year.   

FAMILIES OF THE FALLEN

This Memorial Day weekend, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) will host its 18th Annual TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors in Arlington, Virginia. This special weekend brings together the spouses and children of our fallen troops to remember and honor their lives.

Ellen Andrews, online care coordinator for TAPS, special Memorial Day message:

As dawn breaks on Memorial Day, the morning sun will glisten, reflecting off of the solemn rows of stone. Flags will stand in honor, as the lone sentinel marks his steps.

While many Americans will enjoy backyard cookouts, sporting events, and leisurely days at the beach, many military families across the nation will be facing a future without a precious loved one in their lives. Spouses who now must face raising their children alone; parents who will never witness their child experience life events like marriage, and children of their own; children who are now missing a vital and guiding force in their young lives.

Memorial Day is a time set aside for us to pause as a nation to reflect and honor those men and women who have died in service to our nation.  They represented the best and brightest of our nation; they gave of themselves, so that the freedoms we enjoy can endure. 

We are fortunate to have men and women that possess these qualities and serve in our Armed Forces.  Often far away from home and in hostile environments we can’t begin to imagine; they stand ready, every day of the year. We should remember them, not just on holidays, but every day of the year.

We, as a nation can honor these brave individuals by ensuring the families and loved ones left behind receive compassionate care and support as they move forward into a new and unexpected life.  I found genuine care and understanding after the loss of my fiancé in 1995. A proud naval aviator, he died during a training flight in Corpus Christi, Texas.  Through the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), I found connection to others who shared my experience and a renewed sense of hope at a time when my future seemed uncertain. TAPS provides critical care to grieving families and provides connection to a community of survivors who share and gain strength from each other along the journey of grief.

This Memorial Day, resolve to honor the legacy of service that has been passed down since our nation’s beginning. Remember those who have died in service. Remember their families and loved ones left behind. May we never forget the freedoms we take for granted in our daily lives have come with a heavy price.      

THEY FOUGHT TOGETHER AS BROTHERS-IN-ARMS. 
THEY DIED TOGETHER AND NOW THEY SLEEP SIDE BY SIDE.
TO THEM WE HAVE A SOLEMN OBLIGATION.

—Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, inscribed on the WWII Memorial

REMEMBERING VIETNAM

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War, Chairman Miller submitted the following statement for the Congressional Record, which will be presented to Vietnam veterans this Memorial Day: “I rise today to recognize the 50th Anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War. It is with a profound sense of gratitude that I honor the service and sacrifice of our nation's Vietnam veterans; the commitment and determination of our Armed Forces in the battle for freedom; the unique contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the war; and the crucial contributions made by our allies to stem the spread of tyranny…” To read more, please click here.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM

More than 1,600 museums nationwide will open their doors to military personnel and their families this summer, admission free. This marks the third summer “Blue Star Museums” have offered free admission to servicemembers. To find a participating museum near you, click here.

HONOR WALL

In honor of Memorial Day, the Committee has launched a virtual Veteran Honor Wall. It is our hope that this wall will become the online destination for Americans to share their stories of our veterans, and to thank our military and their families. This is but a small token of our appreciation for the service of our veterans and active duty military. We hope you will check out the page, read the posts, and consider leaving your own message.

LET THE THUNDER ROLL

Come Sunday, more than 500,000 motorcyclists will take to the streets of Washington, D.C., to remember the 83,000 American POW/MIAs still unaccounted for. This year is the 25th Anniversary of Rolling Thunder, which has become one of the biggest Memorial Day traditions.  Also, be sure to tune in to the National Memorial Concert (check local listings) Sunday evening, featuring Gary Sinise, Trace Adkins, and the U.S. Army Chorus.  

The Committee wishes everyone a safe Memorial Day.

UPCOMING COMMITTEE SCHEDULE

May 30: Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations – Purchasing Perspective: VA’s Prosthetics Paradox, 4:00 p.m., 334 Cannon House Office Building

May 31: Full Committee – Reviewing the Implementation of Major Provisions of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, 10:15 a.m., 334 Cannon House Office Building