Arrington at Wreaths Across America Ceremony in Abilene

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Jodey Arrington (TX19) joined the Abilene community to honor and remember fallen soldiers during the annual Wreaths Across America ceremony at the Texas State Veterans Cemetery.

“The freedoms and opportunities we enjoy as Americans are only possible because of the service and sacrifice of our men and women in the armed forces,” said Congressman Jodey Arrington. “We all must do our part to ensure we pass down to our children a culture of honor and respect for those who wore the uniform – they’ve earned it!” 

Remarks given as keynote speaker:

“Mr. Cooper, thank you for that kind introduction, thank you to the leadership of the men and women of Dyess, and thank you to all the volunteers and everyone who has contributed to make this very special event possible and bring us all together in honor of our veterans. It’s great to be home in West Texas with so many friends.

“When I started this job, I knew I would get to be a voice for Ag, but I didn’t anticipate I’d have the joy and blessing to serve those who have borne the battle as a member of the VA Committee.

“As a guy who didn’t serve in the military, I’m proud to represent over 40,000 veterans in West Texas and rural America. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to make sure our veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned and the service that reflects the same level of excellence they demonstrated in service to our country.

“As was said before, right now there are thousands of Wreaths Across America ceremonies taking place in cemeteries and memorial sites across our land. Wreaths Across America is yet another testament to the patriotism and charitable spirit that has always reflected the true character of our country. What started as a simple act of kindness from one family in Maine has grown into a powerful annual tradition where families and fellow Americans throughout our nation come to remember our fallen heroes, and to celebrate the freedoms and the American ideals they fought to defend.

“I’m proud that today’s event takes place right here in the Key City, where the bond between the Abilene community and the freedom fighters of Dyess Air Force Base are inseparable, and where support for our military and respect for our veterans is so deeply rooted in our West Texas culture. 

“At each of the sites upon which we place a wreath today lies someone who answered the sacred calling to serve our country in the Armed Forces. As President John F. Kennedy said, ‘The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always been willing to pay it.’

“There is no freedom without security; and there’s no security for a nation without tremendous sacrifice. Every solider, sailor, marine, airmen, and guardsman gives something when they decide to wear the uniform, including some who gave everything, to defend our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and to defend a country that holds these truths to be self-evident: all men are created equally, all have been endowed by God with basic human rights, and only just governments are those who protect those rights and reflect the will of the people it serves.   

“While each of us owes our veterans a debt we can never fully repay, we can do our part to make sure they are properly recognized and strive to be worthy of their sacrifice. 

“To do that we must take time to remember them and honor their legacy of service – not only at ceremonies like this today – but each and every day by finding ways to give of ourselves to our families, to our friends, and our neighbors. After all, strong nations are no more than the sum of strong families and strong communities.

“Wreaths Across America is about remembering and paying tribute to our heroes who have gone before us, but it’s also about telling our veterans who are still with us – we love you, we are grateful for you, we thank God for you and your family. It’s also about the next generation of Americans and teaching them to appreciate that the cost of freedom is high and making sure they show the utmost respect for those who paid it, some even with their own blood.

“While this holiday season most of us will gather with our families and with old friends, I’m mindful of the fact that there are many who are standing guard and standing in the gap for us all over the world who won’t be able to be their families. We pray for their safety and protection, and we also pray for their spouses and their children – that they may be comforted and be reunited soon.

“So as we go forth from here and place a wreath at the foot of the fallen, let us make Wreath Across America’s mission our mission: to remember those who served, to honor those still serving, and to teach the next generation about the cost of service.

“The wreaths we will lay in a few minutes represent much more than a simple Christmastime decoration. Going back to Ancient Greece, evergreen wreaths have been laid at final resting places as a way to symbolize the gift of everlasting life.

“Today, it’s a reminder that a soldier’s legacy – like his soul – never dies. Or rather that it never dies so long as the generations that follow do our part keep to their memory and their story alive. That is why we are here today – so that our veterans’ legacy doesn’t fade and become forgotten, but instead is honored and lives on in each of us.

“It’s been a great honor for me to with you today. It’s a great privilege to represent you in our nation’s capital. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless and watch over the United States of America.”