To my fellow bikers, service members, veterans and to all who support our military members, as we pay our respects this Memorial Day to those who have given their lives to protect our great nation, let us recognize the contributions of all who have served.
Our country’s legacy of service goes back to even before we officially became a nation. The United States Army was formed over a year before our nation’s birthday. Almost every generation of Americans since has served and paid the price to defend the precious gift of our freedom, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War; to World War I, the war to end all wars; to World War II, which laid the foundation of the prosperity and the peace we enjoy today; to the Korean War where we drew the line and laid the foundation for our victory in the Cold War; to Vietnam where we laid the foundation for more recent military successes in Desert Storm, the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War.
Every generation of men and women who served or who are serving our country today — the soldiers, the sailors, the airmen, the Marines, the Coast Guardsmen, those on active duty, those in the National Guard or Reserves — bear or have borne the burden of preserving our freedom.
We are inspired by their sacrifices, their convictions, their patriotism, their courage, their power and their professionalism.
That is why we can never forget those who did not return from these battlefields and other conflicts, big and small. Our POWs and MIAs can never be forgotten heroes. We must ensure they — and all who have served — are remembered and cherished. They must never be forgotten.
This is why the installment of the new POW/MIA Chair of Honor at the U.S. Capitol was so important — so we will always honor our prisoners of war and the nearly 83,000 military members missing in action. It’s why funding for helping veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues must be a priority — so that we honor our commitment to take care of those who safeguard us.
It’s why memorials to our fallen are so vital — they remind us of their sacrifice and how unselfish they were in serving their country. As a young pilot, I conducted 600 combat hours in an F-4 in the Vietnam War, so I am particularly heartened to see the newly dedicated monument for Vietnam helicopters pilots and crews in Arlington National Cemetery.
It’s why the work of Rolling Thunder and organizations such as American Gold Star Mothers, USO and more are so vital — so that in their time of need, we serve those who have served us.
For as long as we have been the United States of America, it is has been those who serve who have made it possible to share the blessings of liberty around the world and to pass on to the next generation the gifts of freedom that were passed on to us. Let’s honor them today and every day.
Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers returned to his home state and alma mater to become the 14th president of Kansas State University in November 2016. He served as the 15th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and retired as a four-star general after 40 years in the Air Force.