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Sen. Begich Statement for Memorial Day 2011

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, will celebrate Memorial Day at ceremonies on the Park Strip in Anchorage and at Fort Richardson’s National Cemetery. Sen. Begich will be joined by Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki who is also traveling to Bethel and Kwigillingok with Begich to meet with veterans in those communities.

The following statement is taken from the comments Begich will deliver at the Park Strip ceremony:

“The term “commemoration” has been defined as a call to remembrance, an honorable mention. However, what we have gathered to do here today is far greater than either.

We have come, as Abraham Lincoln did at Gettysburg, “to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought, have thus far so nobly advanced.”

We come to honor, remember, and memorialize the dedicated service and personal sacrifices made by our gallant men and women who have served and continue to serve this great nation.

With thousands of men and women stationed in Alaska on the front lines in harm’s way, I want to pay particular note to the soldiers from the First Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Strykers) who recently deployed to Afghanistan. I visited them at the National Training Center as they were training for this deployment.

There are no finer or more professional warriors anywhere than those in the 1st of the 25th. Our thoughts and prayers are with them today, and especially with the families of the three warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice shortly after their arrival in Afghanistan.

This ceremony also comes at a time when we pause to observe three distinctly American anniversaries: the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Each date marks a time when the United States suffered collectively over the great loss of Americans, and today is no different.

Today we remember all those Americans, and those fellow Alaskans, who gave their lives to protect our own. We honor their sacrifice, learning and taking heart from the past, as we look to the task that looms before us with our strength and dedication renewed.

I appreciate the opportunity to recognize the friends, family, and the soldiers themselves. I would like to thank all of you, and particularly those veterans and service members here today, and offer my respect and gratitude for your service and defense of our great nation.

It is because of your service that we can gather here today. Thank you.  God bless Alaska and the United States of America.”

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