The following statement was released by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III to mark Memorial Day:
On Memorial Day, we come together as a nation to pay tribute to the brave Americans who have lost their lives in defense of the nation that they loved, and we mourn anew alongside our cherished Gold Star and surviving families.
In this first Memorial Day since the end of America’s longest war, we remember the 2,461 U.S. service members and personnel who fell in Afghanistan. We will never forget the sacrifice that they and their families made to this country.
When troops enlist, their families serve right alongside them. Their sacrifice and devotion are what makes our armed forces so strong. It is our sacred obligation to support our military families, especially those who have paid the most unthinkable price.
Our troops do not just defend our country; they defend the principles of our democracy and our Constitution. Since Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the world has seen again the power of ordinary citizens and soldiers to resist aggression and tyranny, and I hope that the inspiring resilience of the people of Ukraine will remind us all never to take our freedom and democracy for granted.
We rededicate ourselves today to the values and principles that our fallen forces gave their lives to defend. So let us remember these patriots with a renewed commitment to making our country worthy of their sacrifice, to keeping their families close to our hearts, and to advancing the democratic ideals for which so many have given so much.