BALTIMORE – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) made the following remarks on the occasion of Memorial Day, May 25, 2020.
“This Memorial Day, I will join the nation in commemorating the men and women in uniform who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our democracy.
“Every one of us is programmed from birth to run away from danger. It is in our nature to be self-preservationist. And yet, since the earliest days of this country, we have been blessed by selfless men and women who instead ran towards danger. Driven by a profound sense of patriotism, they laid down their own lives in order to defend the freedoms that define our nation. That level of courage is difficult to comprehend, and impossible to repay. So, we show our gratitude by remembering these heroes – their bravery, their strength, and their hope.
“One such hero is Sergeant 1st Class John David Randolph Hilty from Bowie, Maryland. Sgt. Hilty was serving in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, helping to defeat ISIL, when he died this past April at the age of 44. This was after completing three previous tours to Afghanistan and earning several awards for his valiant service, including the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Joint Service Achievement Medal. He was remembered by those who knew him as a tremendous leader, a dear friend, and a devoted husband, father, and son. I am incredibly thankful for Sgt. Hilty’s service to our country, and sorry for the loss of such a wonderful member of our community.
“We are forever indebted to the brave people like Sgt. Hilty who gave their lives to keep the rest of us safe. But, as President John F. Kennedy once said, ‘we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.’
“I hope that this Memorial Day can be an opportunity for us to reflect on the values that these men and women defended and redouble our efforts to uphold them. Values like the freedoms to speak, worship, think, and live as we choose. Values like equality and justice and tolerance. Values like truth and fairness. These are the pillars of the democracy that so many have died to protect. We honor their sacrifices by working together to build and preserve the America that they fought for.
“We can also honor our fallen heroes by learning their stories. The Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project gives us a chance to do that. This project collects and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans to help future generations better understand the realities of war. I encourage everyone to check out this amazing resource, which can give us a clearer picture of the adversity that men and women in uniform take on in service to our country.
“This weekend, I will remember the sacrifices that so many have made defending our freedoms. My thoughts and prayers are with all the families in Maryland and across the United States who lost loved ones protecting our country. I also pray for the safe return of those currently serving.”