By Senator John ThuneThere are few symbols of the cost of our freedom as potent as the Gold Star service flag, which adorns the homes of those families who have lost a loved one in service to our country. Every year, our nation takes the last Sunday in September to honor those families, particularly those mothers, who have watched their sons and daughters leave to defend America and not see them return.
There are such mothers in South Dakota, and I cannot begin to fathom the emotional moment in which they received the news no parent wants to hear. Abraham Lincoln once wrote, "I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming," when attempting to console the mother of several fallen sons. His sentiment is shared by anyone who has comforted the family and friends of those who have paid the ultimate price to defend this country.
Those who have experienced any kind of great loss often find some solace in sharing their pain with others who have endured similar experiences. Founded in 1928, the Gold Star Mothers service organization has used the agony of grief to bring families together to care for veterans, educate communities about the importance of civic service, and provide comfort to those who suffer from great losses.
I believe that the most valuable way for our nation's leaders to honor those who have fallen in defense of freedom is to ensure that their sacrifice contributes to a successful mission. Congress, the Administration, and leaders of our Armed Forces must commit the necessary resources and willpower to the success of our current conflicts around the globe, and we must meet the needs of those veterans who have served America so well in the past.
Every day policymakers in Washington and commanders in the field are faced with choices that directly impact the lives of our soldiers in harm's way. We must always strive to do what is right by those who wear the uniform and go overseas, as well as those who wait back home for their safe return.
Gold Star Mothers embody Lincoln's prayer that, "Our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom." I ask South Dakotans to join me in remembering those who have given so much in defense of our nation, as I work with my colleagues in government to make the right decisions in meeting the needs of our soldiers and veterans. They deserve nothing less.