On Monday, we celebrate Memorial Day and across the nation Americans will gather to pay tribute to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who go overseas and do not return. They are from every state and territory. They are from farms, ranches and cities. They are of all races and both sexes. They are rich and poor, but generally they are young. They are patriots, defenders of freedom and volunteers to serve our great nation. We remember all of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live freely.
It all started in 1868 when widows and girlfriends of soldiers killed in the War Between the States started putting flowers on the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers in Arlington Cemetery. And thus began what was initially called "Dedication Day," and now Memorial Day.
If we recall our history we must remember that during the War Between the States, there were 350,000 Confederates that were killed and 455,000 Union soldiers that were killed, and regardless of the politics, they were all Americans - America's youth. And thus began what we now call Memorial Day, the last Monday in May.
Memorial Day is a special event for people in Texas because, as you know, around 125,000 Texans are serving our nation, today and every day. Texans have always been willing to volunteer to support our country, and that says a lot about our country.
In another war, the war to end all wars, 5,000 Texans gave their lives. Boys who grew up on farms in Texas suddenly became men as they found themselves in the muddy, rainy, and bloody trenches an ocean away.
Life in the trenches was hard. Men were constantly bombarded with artillery and machine gun fire. And they often faced the danger of going over the trenches and crossing no man's land, trying to repel the enemy forces attempting the same.
In the midst of battle and in the face of the enemy, some men displayed tremendous gallantry and were awarded medals for their actions. However, the greatest casualty of war is to be forgotten. More soldiers died during World War I than in Korea, Vietnam, both Iraq Wars and Afghanistan combined. It is only fitting that they are honored in our nation’s capital.
After the long process of passing the creation of the WWI memorial and created and funded the WWI commission through Congress, it was signed into law. Now, we have finally arrived at a design for the National WWI memorial at Pershing Park. The “Weight of Sacrifice” was chosen by the WWI commission. Soon, veterans of the war to end all wars will be properly honored in our nation’s capital.
This Memorial Day, we remember those who served and who did not make it back home. On Monday, I will be honoring our fallen heroes at the Houston National Cemetery, as Americans across the nation observe this day of remembrance. We remember their sacrifices and that of their families. To those who gave their all to serve our country, America is eternally grateful. We remember each and every one of them because the worst casualty of war is to be forgotten.
And that is just the way it is.