When you walk the hollowed grounds of Arlington, Gettysburg, and Normandy, you see row upon row of marble headstones. Etched into them are names known to many and names known to none. What the men and women who rest beneath them have in common is their brave, selfless service to our nation—and lives cut short and unlived.

Memorial Day is an opportunity for us to honor all who gave what President Abraham Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion.” The United States is an experiment in democracy, a beacon of freedom to the world—and the veterans we celebrate today died protecting and upholding its ideals. As we reflect on their service and sacrifice, we also remember the words of General George Patton, who reminded us to “thank God that such men lived.”

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