Only by the grace of God and the sacrifice of thousands of brave men and women do we live in the greatest country in the history of the world — a country that permits privileges, rights and liberties beyond the wildest dreams and imaginations of most of the world's population.
We have the freedom to celebrate those liberties in a variety of ways that are meaningful to us and our families. This Monday is one of those occasions.
This Memorial Day weekend will be filled with family picnics, cookouts, local parades and joyous outings with family members, but it means much more than merely an extra day off work and time for summer to truly start.
Throughout our lives, we have all been at events held in places of worship, schools, conference centers or arenas where those who have served on behalf of our country stand up for a round of applause and cheers from the rest of us.
While those who are currently serving do in fact deserve our paramount gratitude and respect for keeping us safe, this weekend is not about those who are currently overseas or have returned home safely.
This weekend — specifically Memorial Day — is about those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation's freedom, giving what Abraham Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion” to ensure that a country dedicated to the proposition of a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not vanish from the earth.”
As you enjoy your activities this weekend, I want you to remember the words of another president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who said, "Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them."
So we must never forget that the reason we can enjoy celebrations like this weekend is because brave men and women gave up their lives so that citizens in this nation do not have to face conflict on our homeland. They are the bravest of the brave and the most courageous of the courageous.
It takes a special person to put our nation and freedom before their own life. So, on this weekend, I encourage everyone to take a moment of silence to remember our fallen men and women in uniform and perhaps even visit one of our national cemeteries to pay respects to those who have advanced the cause of freedom.
Take time to thank a member of a military family who has lost someone. Without their family member's sacrifice, these United States could not lay claim as the home of the brave. We must never forget that freedom is not free.
We must never forget that lives have been sacrificed upon the altar of freedom so that we may all pursue the American dream.
While we can never do enough to thank our military for their service, we can always ensure we take a moment to reflect on everything that our servicemen and women have done to protect our rights and liberties. We must never forget the patriots who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Remember what our third President Thomas Jefferson said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots."
May God bless you and your family, and may God bless the United States of America.
Sen. Butch Miller serves as the president pro tempore of the Georgia State Senate. He represents the 49th Senate District, which includes most of Hall County. He may be reached at 404-656-7454 or firstname.lastname@example.org.