Austin, Texas Saturday May 23, 2015
Governor Greg Abbott today addressed a Joint Session of the Texas Legislature commemorating Texas fallen heroes in honor of Memorial Day.
“For the past few months, this Capitol has been a battleground of democracy. The people who made that democratic process possible, the people who ensured we would have the freedom to fight about ideas are the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States Military,” said Governor Abbott in his remarks.
Governor Abbott Address to Joint Legislative Session Honoring Memorial Day
*Governor Abbott often deviates from prepared remarks.
Thank you Lt. Governor Patrick, Speaker Straus, Members and honored guests.
It is fitting that we gather in this Chamber and in this Capitol to remember and honor those who gave their lives for our country. For the past few months, this Capitol has been a battleground of democracy. The people who made that democratic process possible, the people who ensured we would have the freedom to fight about ideas are the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States Military.
We are so grateful to all of those who have served, but today we particularly remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. At this service we recognize especially Texas service members killed in combat since the last legislative session.
Earlier this week Texas hosted an event that adds context to our Memorial Day Service. It was an event in San Antonio to unveil the upcoming mini-series titled “Texas Rising.” It tells about the Alamo and the rise of Texas. The story of the Alamo still captivates Americans because of the character demonstrated by the soldiers at the Alamo.
Out-manned and out-gunned, they defiantly battled Santa Ana’s army, knowing they faced certain death. Their legacy lives on because they fought and died for a cause greater than themselves – the cause of liberty.
It is the same cause fought for by the men and women we honor today. It is the cause fought for by Americans since the day our country began.
There is an arc in the story of America, and it bends toward freedom. From Valley Forge to Vicksburg, from the Civil War to Civil Rights, from the Cold War to the War on Terror, Americans always remember that freedom is worth fighting for.
We honor the heroes who gave their all to fight for that Freedom, those who went in harm’s way to protect the American Way, those who never came home, who offered their lives on the altar of freedom.
They stood in the face of dangers known and unknown and protected us from all that threatened, sacrificing so much and asking for nothing in return other than the respect for the freedom they fought for.
For the families of the fallen with us here today: our words are small solace to the loss you have suffered. When I think of your loss, I’m reminded of the closing scene in the movie Saving Private Ryan. Captain Miller fought through brutal World War II battles to save Private Ryan, who was the last surviving brother four servicemen. In the closing battle scene Captain Miller is mortally wounded. As he was dying his last words were to Private Ryan, whose life he saved: “Earn this. Earn it.”
The movie then fast-forwards several decades later to an elderly Ryan standing at the grave of his rescuer. It was one in a sea of white crosses and Stars of David in a massive military cemetery. Ryan thinks back about his life and says: “I hope in your eyes I’ve earned all of what you’ve done for me.”
It is a metaphor for what all Americans feel about those who sacrificed their lives for this nation; we hope we have earned what they did for us.
To the families who have lost a son or daughter, mother or father, sister or brother – speaking on behalf of all who work in this Capitol and on behalf of all Texans – we will work to earn what your family has done for us. We will continue on the homeland to fight for the freedom they died for on lands across this globe.
On this day we thank you, and we remember those who served this country and who died for Liberty. May God bless each and every one of you, and may God forever bless the United States of America.