Memorial Day is a time to pause, honor, and remember those who paid the ultimate price to protect America and defend freedom around the world.
In Georgia, we have a proud history of supporting our military and their families. Our state is home to Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine, and Navy installations. My father, David A. Perdue Sr., served in World War II and the Korean War. He retired as a colonel in the Air Force Reserve in 1952. He always taught me that no one understands the real price of freedom better than those who have served in uniform. Growing up in Warner Robins, the home of Robins Air Force Base, I have been blessed to witness our state’s military traditions my entire life and to see our defenders of freedom in action.
Georgia’s proud military history is embodied by servicemen and women across our great state, including the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year. Its first combat role was in World War I, when it the first earned the moniker, “Rock of the Marne.” It fought again with distinction in World War II, and again in Korea, where it was first called the “Fire Brigade” because of its quick responses to moments of crisis. The 3rd Infantry Division continues to serve to this day, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, and South Korea. Headquartered at Fort Benning in Columbus following World War II, the 3rd Infantry Division has called Fort Stewart in Hinesville home since 1996.
In the 3rd Infantry Division’s century of service, over 10,000 soldiers in its ranks have paid the ultimate price for freedom. Their service and sacrifice is another reminder that the best, and I mean the very best, of America is represented by the women and men who wear the uniform.
In a speech at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day in 1982, Ronald Reagan said, “I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country… Yet, we must try to honor them—not for their sakes alone, but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.”
For over 241 years, Americans have enjoyed freedom and opportunity. This freedom and opportunity comes with great sacrifice. We must never lose sight of the high price paid for our freedom, and we must endeavor to ensure that America remains a nation worthy of their sacrifice.