By REP. LADDIE SHAW
This past weekend my wife and I participated in “Wreaths Across America” at the Fort Richardson National Cemetery. It is a ceremony whose mission is to remember and honor our fallen warriors and it is carried out across all 50 states at 2,500 locations.
As you lay a wreath and say the name out loud, the recognition is honored and remembered.
The holiday season is upon us and we gather together to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. But many of us aligned with military service, both family members and service members, know of an empty seat at some family’s dinner table.
An empty seat, to remind us to remember those who sacrificed for our freedoms. Though for many of us, we carry those thoughts in the deep recesses of our soul for a life time. Participating in this event was a good reason to come together to collectively honor those warriors. In a simple gesture with the laying of wreaths, we share our deep appreciation to those men and women in uniform who gave their last full measure of devotion for the freedom we so enjoy.
Since our nation’s founding, America’s sons and daughters have given their lives in service to our country. From Gettysburg to Normandy, from Inchon and Khe Sanh, from Baghdad to Kandahar, they departed our world as heroes and gave their lives for a cause greater than themselves.
We cherish their memory and give thought to the lives they once shared with us. We mourn with the families and friends of those we have lost, and hope they find comfort in knowing their loved ones died with honor. Christmas is a time for giving, a time for sharing and a time for reflection. A time to share heartfelt memories with one another.
It is our sacred duty to preserve the legacy of these brave Americans, and it remains our charge to work for peace, freedom, and security. Let us always strive to uphold the founding principles they died defending, let their legacy continue to inspire our Nation and let this solemn lesson of service and sacrifice be taught to future generations of Americans.
When we returned from Vietnam we had no need to be “reminded” of our service. We had each other and we had “The Wall” as our touchstone, where 58,000 names are etched in simple black granite as a reminder of the cost of freedom of just one generation. It’s our emotional “welcome home”, our eternal wreath so to speak.
Though our generation was ostracized for our efforts on behalf of freedom, we said to ourselves that “Never again shall one generation of warriors forget another.” So, we in turn celebrate the memory of those fallen warriors not only of our generation but those who sacrificed from many wars past and those that continue to sacrifice for the cause of freedom. As veterans we do this out of mutual respect and admiration for service and sacrifice rendered, one warrior to another.
This holiday season, as in every holiday season past, Americans from all backgrounds and corners of our country serve with valor, courage, and distinction defending our liberties. They stand in spirit with those ‘ol soldiers of generations past who are an eternal part of our nation’s history, now writing their own chapter of service and sacrifice. Most of today’s warriors know what it means to lose a comrade in arms before their time. The Gold Star families who know that loss as well, truly understand the value of the sacrifice given.
The day of laying wreaths at these humble stone grave sites was just another day to pay tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price to defend the United States and the principles upon which America was founded.
We ask for God’s grace to protect those fighting in distant lands, and we renew our promise to support our troops, their families, and our veterans. Their unwavering devotion inspires us all — they are the best of America.
Merry Christmas to Warriors all.
Rep. Laddie Shaw has represented South Anchorage since 2019.