May 30, 2016

Udall Delivers Remarks at Santa Fe Memorial Day Ceremony

SANTA FE, NM - Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall joined veterans, service members and their families for the "Day of Remembrance" ceremony at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. He delivered remarks honoring the service members who have died fighting for our nation -- and the veterans from New Mexico and across the United States who have served in U.S. conflicts to protect our freedoms.

The following are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning. Thank you Director Sanders. I am honored to be with you and Colonel Long. Let me also recognize Senator Heinrich.

This day is different from the other occasions when we honor our service members and veterans. First and foremost, it is a day of mourning when we remember those who have been taken from us by the horrors of war-those who gave the last full measure of devotion for a country and a cause.

Memorial Day was first recognized after the Civil War as a day to decorate the graves of those who had fought and died for the union. Over the years, we have expanded it to be a day to remember all of our fallen heroes, and that is fitting.

But the role of the holiday in our traditions has changed too. Today, for millions of Americans, Memorial Day is also the traditional beginning of summer; a time when families take time to spend together, to travel and enjoy the freedom and privileges that we enjoy as Americans.

In some ways that is fitting too. So as summer begins we pause and reflect and thank the veterans and service members who fought - and died - for those freedoms and the values that unite us.

New Mexico has a proud history of military service. This cemetery was first established at the close of the Civil War for the interment of soldiers who fought for the Union - even before New Mexico statehood.

It is much larger today. In the decades following the Civil War, young men and women heard the call of duty to secure peace and liberty.

And so I am honored to be here with you to honor the veterans from New Mexico and across the United States, who served throughout our history - and to recognize those veterans with us today and the families of those who have given their lives in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and everywhere they were called to serve.

To our veterans here with us, thank you for your sacrifice for our nation. To the families who have lost loved ones in service, we thank you for your unwavering support. We mourn alongside with you.

Let us also remember our fellow Americans who continue to serve overseas as they stand ready to defend our nation-sometimes directly in harm's way. We do not take their service lightly - or for granted.

They represent the best of us - the highest standards of honor, bravery and courage.

No matter why you are here - whether it is to honor a fallen family member or friend, or to offer your own appreciation and prayers to strangers who fought for our freedom - I thank you for marking this occasion with us.

As your U.S. Senator, I will continue to work to ensure that our veterans - and the men and women of our Armed Forces - receive the benefits they have earned and the honor they deserve when they return home.

And when they do tragically do not come home, we all have an obligation to ensure that their families are taken care of in their absence. It is a small token of gratitude in exchange for men and women who left their homes and families to defend our safety and freedoms.

Today, we celebrate their memory. We will not forget them.

And I thank you for the opportunity to join this very special ceremony.