Honoring Memorial Day

Dear friend,

Today is Memorial Day. For many, this day marks the unofficial kick-off of the summer season – complete with barbecues, fireworks, and trips to the beach. However, as we gather with family and friends, it’s important we remember the true meaning of Memorial Day. Today we mourn, remember, and celebrate the lives of every brave American who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom.

As a 23-year Navy veteran and the last Vietnam veteran serving in the United States Senate, today takes on a special meaning for me. Throughout my time in Congress, I have often started my days on the National Mall, where the Vietnam War Memorial bears the names of the brave men and women who died in the line of service for our country. I was fortunate enough to make it home safely after deploying for three tours of duty during the Vietnam War — but 58,000 of my brothers and sisters did not have the same fate.

My own family knows this pain all too well. At the age of 19, my Uncle Bob was killed in action during World War II. His remains were never recovered, and my grandparents never got to say goodbye. I’ll never forget his story.

Throughout my years in public service, I have worked to ensure that we not only equip our servicemembers, veterans, and military families with the resources to thrive, but that we also keep the memory alive of those killed in action. In 1991, I led a bipartisan congressional delegation of Vietnam veterans back to Southeast Asia to gather information on soldiers who were reported missing in action during the war. And in this Congress, I introduced and passed a bipartisan, bicameral resolution to honor the extraordinary sacrifice and service of the approximately 766 members of the Armed Forces held captive during the Vietnam War – including those considered missing in action.

As many Delawareans know, our state plays an important role in honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Dover Air Force Base serves as the first destination for the repatriation of those killed in the line of duty. It is here, in the First State, that so many are given the solemn, dignified arrival fit for their heroism. I’ve attended many of these repatriations, and I’m always struck by how truly indebted we are to these men and women who put their lives on the line in defense of our freedom.

This weekend, as we gather with family and friends, I wish you all a great Memorial Day and may we honor all of our servicemembers today and every day.

God Bless America,

Tom Carper