Opinions and Speeches

By U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

It remains humbling to me every time a Georgia community comes together to support our servicemen and women and their families. On Armed Forces Day last weekend, I had the honor of participating in the grand opening of the Military Family Support Center presented by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, here in our own town of Marietta, Ga.

Anyone who opens the Marietta Daily Journal or turns on the television knows that we live in a world of unknown and dangerous threats. Despite this, nearly 2.1 million Americans have voluntarily raised their right hands and sworn to defend our nation against all enemies – foreign and domestic. 

What makes these men and women unique? Despite these global threats, they choose to rise to the challenge. They come from all walks of life. From Main Street USA and sea to shining sea – and even next door – our selfless warriors voluntarily walk away from the comforts of home to endure long hours in the field. When they join the most elite force on this planet they know they will spend countless months away from their families, and even come face-to-face to with evil forces that wish to do us harm. They willingly choose this path in spite of its risks and sacrifices.

In our increasingly unstable world, these courageous Americans are deployed in more than 150 countries on humanitarian missions, coalition force partnerships or counterterrorism operations, and there is no mission or challenge they cannot rise to meet.

Old adversaries such as Russia and China and new names in already-familiar territories unfortunately provide national security challenges on nearly every front. 

While the unknown threatens global peace, one constant known is the courage and dedication of America’s armed forces. I am constantly reminded that we are the land of the free, because of the brave.

This Monday gives us all a moment to stop and pay respect to the approximately 1.3 million Americans who have given their lives in the defense of our great nation, beginning with the Revolutionary War. We are reminded of the sacrifices of the Civil War in our own backyard at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. And from World War I and World War II, to Korea or Vietnam, and from Iraq and Afghanistan, brave men and women have answered the call to defend our homeland and protect the helpless around the world in the name of peace. 

Those of us who are fortunate to live in this area need look no farther than Marietta National Cemetery, where every one of our patriotic hometown parades marches by, or Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Ga., for a sobering reminder of the price of freedom.

While Americans enjoy the long weekend with family and barbecues, I would encourage everyone to take a moment to remember the true meaning of the holiday: To honor the servicemembers who have paid the ultimate price. 

Additionally, without the support of those families whom, as President Lincoln once said, “have laid such a costly sacrifice upon the altar of freedom,” we would be nowhere. The strength and sacrifice of our families to persevere is inspiring and their support of our goals of peace and freedom is simply humbling. 

On Memorial Day, and every day, I am reminded that we are the land of the free, because of the brave.

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The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.

Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.