As World War Two neared its end in June of 1945, General George Patton stated, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” This Memorial Day, let us be thankful that our men and women in uniform have been so willing to serve our nation—even to give their lives—to protect our liberty.
We will never forget the sacrifice, courage or commitment to our nation of our men and women in uniform.
The members of our Armed Forces have courageously defended our country for more than 250 years and continue to do so to this day. It is fitting to set a day aside to pause and remember those who left the security of their home and family to serve their country, some never to return.
This Memorial Day and throughout the year, Ann and I are proud to honor and remember the incredible group of patriots who have answered the call. We also remember and thank those they left behind—their families, who serve our nation through their loving support of the person called to duty.
Every day of the year, we must care for the men and women who have so bravely fought and sacrificed to defend the freedoms we share.
Sadly, during the Vietnam War, our members of the Armed Forces endured negative treatment upon their return home from overseas despite having answered the call of their nation and serving with honor and bravery.
Although this treatment was undeserved, these men and women have made the nation understand that we, as the beneficiaries of their sacrifice, must do all we can to demonstrate our appreciation for those who served our nation.
I hope that the example of our Vietnam Veterans’ service and endurance will continue to help heal our country. They are true heroes.
Those who have served in uniform since Vietnam have been treated more respectfully and with greater gratitude and understanding because we have learned from these experiences, and for that we are thankful.
Maine has the second-highest number of veterans by population of all states, and their active presence in our communities reminds us of the need to give back as they have given and continue to give to us.
Therefore, I once again urge our gold-star families, veterans, and the families of our active-duty service members to take advantage of the services available to you through the federal and state governments. These programs are not charity, they are the tangible thank-you from a grateful nation.
Whether it is a job, a gravesite, a state park pass, or free tuition, you deserve to access what you have earned. And know that, while some of these programs are small, we are also tackling the big issue of veteran suicide.
For the past two years, the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services has been on the front line of several innovative undertakings – one of which was recently demonstrated while serving as host of the Suicide Prevention Symposium this past December.
In 2014, 55 Maine veterans committed suicide and only 6 of them were known to the VA Maine Healthcare System. The Maine veteran suicide rate was 10 percent higher than the national rate and 30 percent higher than our state general population suicide rate.
The Bureau brought together hundreds of community partners to discuss ways to address the veteran suicide epidemic, and the event was so successful, the program will be used as a best practice model across the country to bring awareness to suicide prevention efforts.
Maine has a strong heritage of dedication and service to our country and we take great pride in our troops. They have fought for us and died for us, and there is no way to repay them for what they have given.
On this Memorial Day, let’s show that we are grateful for all of our fallen heroes.