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Every military family deserves our gratitude

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The sacrifices military families make are real and profound; whether it’s moving more times than you can count, having to raise kids alone, or spending holidays apart from the ones you love. Our military families embrace every challenge with strength. And this Military Family Appreciation Month, we honor and thank you for your service.

We thank our servicemembers and veterans for believing that our country is worth defending, that freedom is worth the fight, and that evil and injustice — no matter where it is — does not deserve safe haven. We thank you for liberating Europe, fighting communism in Korea and Vietnam, and fighting the War on Terror in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

And we thank our military families for spurring these brave men and women on, for giving them the support they need, and for encouraging them to serve. It is your willingness to endure the unthinkable that allows Americans to sleep soundly at night knowing we are safe and free. We do not take your sacrifices lightly.

While serving in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, I witnessed firsthand the selfless sacrifices of so many who ran towards danger instead of away from it. Most people run away from bullets, but America’s warriors run toward the blood-chilling sound of gunfire.

One warrior stands out from the rest in my mind. His name was Corey, and he was the senior medic who participated in the rescue of a Navy Seal who fell from a helicopter at Roberts Ridge in Afghanistan. During the rescue, his helicopter was shot down and crashed on the hill. Hundreds of Taliban surrounded the 30-40 soldiers. They fought for 36 hours before they were relieved. Corey was shot seven times, but he continued to give aid to the wounded until he passed out from loss of blood. I joined the regiment only months later, and guess who was there to greet me — Corey. We flew into Baghdad together only months later as part of the task force searching for Iraq’s dictator.

Corey’s kind of courage — his kind of dedication — cannot be manufactured. It flows from true patriotism and a dedication to advancing freedom and defeating evil. It is because of warriors like Corey that we celebrate our military servicemembers and the families that made them who they are.

I often remember a warrior I knew who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. A year after his death, I went to his Facebook page and what I saw nearly broke my heart. The last post was a photo of a little girl — his little girl. The post said, “I love you and I miss you daddy.” This twelve-year-old girl is the picture of sacrifice. This great man gave his life for our freedoms, but she gave her father, a price she pays every day for the rest of her life. This is the high price of freedom, but a price he believed was worth it.

That is why we thank our warriors and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. And we thank their families for being willing to let them go, to do life without them for months on end, and to uproot their lives when duty calls.

Our servicemembers and their families believe what some on the left question today — that America is great and is worth fighting for. We have our faults, but from the beginning we formed something special — something unheard of — in the history of humankind.

America showed the world that freedom and self-government is possible. We showed the world what freedom means, and we have been freedom’s fiercest defenders for over 200 years.

What other country has fought so hard to preserve freedom, at home and around the world? America is unique — America is special — don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.

Ronald Reagan said that “freedom is a fragile thing, and is never more than one generation away from extinction.” To keep this from happening we must remember all we have sacrificed for freedom, especially all our veterans, servicemembers, and their families have sacrificed. We do this by telling and honoring their stories.

To our country’s servicemembers and veterans — thank you for your service. And to the families that gave them something to fight for — thank you as well. We are indebted to you.

Rep. Mark Green is a physician and combat veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. He served on the mission to capture Saddam Hussein, and he interviewed Saddam Hussein for six hours on the night of his capture. He serves on the House Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, and Oversight Committees.

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