Let me begin by welcoming our distinguished guests:
- Brigadier General Phil Browning
- Brigadier General Maria Britt
- Major General Terry Nesbitt
- Col. William Cain
- Lt. Col. Jarrard
- Chaplain Davis
- the 3rd Infantry Division Brass Quintet from Fort Stewart
- the Georgia National Guard Honor Guard
- fellow elected officials, and
- active and retired servicemen and women.
Thank you all for being here … we are privileged by your presence on this occasion.
And, most of all, I want to welcome and recognize our most honored guests today – the families of our fallen servicemen and women. We are honored by your presence … thank you for being here.
This last year, Georgia lost 22 of her own to combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. And today, we commemorate them:
- for their courage and sense of honor
- for their service
- for their love of this nation and our most cherished principles
They have given their lives in defense of freedom and we owe them our deepest respect and gratitude. But even more, we owe them our allegiance to the principles that they gave so much for – freedom, justice and equality. This ceremony is a time to recommit ourselves to those high ideals.
To a person, these 22 brave individuals … and all those they represent in the history of this great nation … are heroes. Their sacrifice is a reminder that our freedom is won at great cost.
Today, Americans from every corner of this land recognize their sacrifice … in formal services like this one … and at cookouts and kitchen tables when someone speaks up or offers a prayer “to remember” and “to give thanks.”
… For the loved ones of our fallen soldiers, you, more than anyone, know the meaning of “ultimate sacrifice.” In fact, their sacrifice is in part yours. You supported them, and the great honor they have earned belongs in part to you. Know that you have our full support and that our prayers are with you.
Thank you and may God continue to bless this nation with brave men and women, like those Georgians we are honoring today.