As we prepare to observe a solemn Memorial Day, I’m mindful that this is the 20th year our country has been at war in Afghanistan, longer than any other American conflict. Now, with an announced end to the deployment to Afghanistan, we remember that about 2.7 million Americans have served this century in Iraq and Afghanistan -- many of them from Fort Campbell -- and more than half of them deployed more than once.
Many of those who returned are now our community members, neighbors and friends. However, for some families here in Clarksville and for many families across the nation, Memorial Day is a stark and painful reminder of a loved one lost in service to America.
The harsh reality of war, and military service in general, is that not everyone will make it home. And that is why we observe Memorial Day, which commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.
As we observe another Memorial Day, I am saddened by the impact the pandemic has had on funerals and memorial services for military veterans and active duty members of our Armed Forces. Often, these ceremonies over the past 15 months were canceled or scaled back because of public health restrictions. Mourning the passing of a beloved veteran or service member is always difficult, and these factors have made it even more challenging.
This year, as we start to see light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel, we'll still see one more Memorial Day with a virtual community observance organized by the Montgomery County Veterans Service Organization.
Still, we can't let these conditions diminish our heartfelt expression of gratitude to those in the Armed Forces who paid the ultimate price for their country. In remembering the fallen, we also honor their loved ones -- their spouses, fathers, mothers, and other family members. We are deeply grateful, and will always remember the sacrifices of our nation’s heroes.