Defense Department leaders spoke at a TAPS Memorial Day weekend event today.
“Even as the nation pauses this weekend to express gratitude for all that you and your loved ones have given for this country, those of us outside the survivor community cannot really know what it means or how it feels,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks. “I can’t truly know what it means to walk in your shoes, but I can and I do admire that you keep walking.”
“Each one of you has your own story of loss and grief and living, and you deserve support from the Department of Defense, and you deserve to know that it is a family to which you will always belong. But here you come together as a family of survivors,” she said.
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Ramón “CZ” Colón-López, said that he and his wife Janet have lost many friends in battle and some due to suicide.
“We have been in your shoes. So we’ve clearly walked in the shoes that you wear today,” he said.
“In the military we often call ourselves a band of brothers and sisters. And the reason we do that is because we take care of one another. And we dare to go forward into harm’s way to preserve this nation’s treasure, and that is our freedom,” he said.
In the military, there’s a saying that irrespective of the cost, service members will never leave behind one of their own, he said.
To keep the memories of those alive and those who were lost, seek happiness, pride and purpose and let that be a guiding compass to lead the path forward, he said.