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A Debt of Gratitude
By Rep. Jody Hice
As we gather this Memorial Day at backyard barbecues, sunny beaches, and local parks, it’s important to reflect on the reason that we observe this special day: To honor and remember our fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives for our nation.
The debt of gratitude we owe each of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice is a debt that cannot be repaid, a debt we should acknowledge not only on Memorial Day, but every day. Every day that our children go to school, every day that we worship freely and every day that we are free to pursue happiness.
Since the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775, millions of valiant men and women have heeded the call of service. They gave all of their tomorrows so that we could have today. One such soldier who stood for us and made the final sacrifice was 1st Lt. Weston Cecil Lee, an infantry officer from Bluffton who was recently killed by an IED outside of Mosul, Iraq. He was only 25 years old.
Weston was a graduate of Southwest Georgia Academy in Early County and described by his neighbors as “one of the finest young men ever to come out of our corner of the state.” In his short career, Weston served as a platoon leader and was the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Ranger Tab, the Parachutist Badge and the Army Service Ribbon.
His funeral service this week at Arlington National Cemetery was a heartbreaking reminder that exemplary warriors are oftentimes the cost of freedom, and we must be thankful for every hero, like Weston, who chooses to take the oath to defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
The values of loyalty, leadership, honor and integrity are instilled in our men and women in uniform, and they go into battle so that we can live without fear in a Nation that is safe and secure. This Memorial Day, I challenge you to remember that the holiday was created to give all Americans from all walks of life the opportunity to pay our respects, honor the memories of the departed and give thanks from a grateful nation for securing the blessings of freedom that we enjoy each and every day.
So take time this weekend to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your fellow Americans, to think of the selfless and tireless efforts of our fallen heroes, place a flag or flowers at a grave site, or simply say “thank you.” As always, God bless our men and women in uniform — those who continue to serve and those who paid the ultimate price — and God bless the United States of America.
Congressman Hice represents Georgia’s 10th District and is a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform and House Natural Resources Committees. This column first ran exclusively in the Walton Tribune on Saturday, May 27th.