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Combat, peacetime, suicide deaths — all who perish in uniform should be memorialized

Dr. Bob Lorinser, candidate for Congress in Northern Michigan and the UP, reflects on the meaning of Memorial Day, 2023

GWINN, Mich. — When he spoke at a ceremony at Gettysburg five years before the first Decoration Day observations, President Lincoln reminded us that through their deeds, fallen soldiers speak from beyond more profoundly for themselves than any of the living ever could.

Today, we know Decoration Day as Memorial Day. The name has changed, but our debt to the fallen soldier is eternal.

President Lincoln stressed that we could only honor the deceased by rededicating ourselves to the cause for which they so willingly gave a last full measure of devotion.

Memorial Day is a day when grieving Gold Star mothers place flowers on the graves of their loved ones. It's a day we gather in small communities at cemeteries to pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It's a day the Nation pauses, reflects, and remembers.

We honor true American heroes, heroes who will never perish in our hearts and who live on in the souls of their families. Their lives are forever illuminated by the light that heroism leaves behind.

Our privilege to live with liberty in Northern Michigan, the Upper Peninsula, and across the Nation is because of brave and selfless American heroes who've died in service to their country, not just in battle but in peacetime as well.

Over one million soldiers have died during service. Over 7,000 U.S. troops have perished in America's wars since 2001.

Unfortunately, there are many more poignant consequences of asking so much from our men and women in uniform. Veteran suicide is one of the greatest crises of our time. Since Sept. 11, 2001, over 30,000 veterans have died by suicide — four times more than U.S. military personnel who died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We can't honor Memorial Day's true meaning without acknowledging combat's deepest wounds; PTSD, depression, and death by suicide. All who perish in uniform deserve to be memorialized.

President Kennedy said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words but to live by them." We owe it to our struggling Veterans to do better by them.

In remembrance of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice — and those we've lost too early — I wish you and your loved ones a meaningful Memorial Day full of reflection, gratitude, and respect.


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