O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
Each year, we come together on Memorial Day to honor the generations of brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.
These were our fellow Americans who put on our country’s uniforms and traveled far from home, knowing the risks that would lie ahead of them. They answered the call to serve each and every one of their fellow citizens, not just those they knew or shared much in common with. They were patriots who gave their lives because they believed in the strength and promise of our remarkable country, and because they knew that preserving our democracy depends on our capacity to protect the freedom of each and every one of us.
Memorial Day is important, to be sure, but our reverence shouldn’t be confined to a single day. Every American has a duty to ensure that our country is ever worthy of the sacrifices that our fallen service members made for us. That includes paying tribute to those we have lost.
It is in that spirit and for that reason that we have memorials in Washington, D.C. to honor our fallen and provide a place for Americans to pay our solemn respects and learn more about our history. But Americans who come to Washington today will find no such memorial for the Global War on Terrorism, a war that has claimed the lives of thousands of American service members.
It is past time that we change that.
Thousands of Americans have been killed in the Global War on Terrorism, and countless more, including Steph Ouellette of Manchester and Natalie Healy of Exeter, are forever changed by the conflict.
In 2009, Steph lost her brother, Corporal Michael Ouellette USMC, in Afghanistan. For his bravery in service on the date of his death, CPL Ouellette was awarded the Navy Cross.
Natalie’s son, Navy Seal Daniel Healy, was killed in Afghanistan when his helicopter was shot down as he attempted to rescue a SEAL reconnaissance team. For his heroic efforts, he was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for Valor, the Purple Heart, and Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
Like so many family members of fallen service members, Steph and Natalie have turned their grief into action by working to honor the sacrifices that their family members and thousands of others have made.
Steph has been active in efforts to build a Global War on Terrorism Memorial, a permanent space where veterans, soldiers, loved ones, and all Americans can gather and honor the service and sacrifice of those we have lost. Steph has said that while New Hampshire has important ways to memorialize these heroes, including the memorial at Hampton American Legion Post 35 and at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery, we have to do a better job nationally.
Natalie’s efforts include starting the Dan Healy Foundation in her son’s memory, which works to provide scholarships to students in the Seacoast area attending a military or a trade school, supports Seacoast veterans, and offers support to single mothers in the region. She has told me that constructing the Global War on Terrorism Memorial would make a major difference in the lives of families who have lost their loved ones in this war, and it would help make sure that the sacrifices of service members like her son are never forgotten.
It has been my distinct privilege to support Steph and Natalie’s efforts in Congress. To do so, I’ve joined with Republican Senator Joni Ernst, a combat veteran, to introduce bipartisan legislation that would construct the Global War on Terrorism Memorial on the National Mall.
This memorial will honor the tremendous sacrifice made by service members, civilians, and their family members on behalf of all Americans. It will give generations of Americans the opportunity to reflect on those who gave everything to keep Americans safe, secure, and free.
We can never fully repay the sacrifices made by our brave men and women in uniform, but we must always try. By creating a Global War on Terrorism Memorial on the National Mall, we can take a step in honoring those who fought in this ongoing war, and we can help our country reflect, heal, and move forward together.
Throughout our country’s history, our brave service members joined together from all different backgrounds, fought for people they never knew, and loved our country and their fellow Americans. These generations of service and sacrifice represent the very best of our country and are key to what it means to live in a democracy. On Memorial Day and every day, we have to do all that we can to honor the sacrifices of each and every one of these heroes.
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