Vice President Mike Pence took time on Monday to honor American military who died in service to the country and issue a charge to others: remember them, and live in a way worthy of the freedom their deaths have won.
The vice president laid the annual Memorial Day wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery before giving remarks to the crowd gathered to honor American military who died in service to America.
“History records that more than 40 million have served in the uniform of the United States, and nearly one million Americans have fallen in uniform since our nation’s founding,” Pence remarked.
Pence turned focus to the dreams of fallen service members that would never come to pass, as their lives were cut short. He then told some of their stories.
“Words fail when heroes fall,” he said. “So we do well on this day, each year, just to tell their stories and to let their words and deeds speak for them.”
One soldier, Sgt. David Ker, had dropped out of Columbia University to serve in WWI. While deployed to France, he volunteered for an attack on Saint-Mihiel. The day before the attack, he wrote his mother expressing the great joy he felt as he prepared to participate in the first all-American drive. “It gives me inexpressible joy and pride to know that I shall be present to do my share,” Pence read from the letter that went on to say he did not fear death. Ker wrote wishing family back home God’s blessings: “I feel wonderfully strong to do my share well. … For my sake, you must try to drown your sorrow in the pride [and] satisfaction … that I died well in so clean a cause as … ours.”
Ker was killed “two months before the guns fell silent,” Pence revealed.
Pence shared stories of Navy Reserve pilot Ensign William Robinson Evans Jr., Lieutenant John Floyd Cochrane, and Army National Guard Colonel Paul Kelly as well.
The vice president paid tribute also to those whose remains have never been found and identified.
“We will never rest until every soldier is accounted for and resting on American soil,” Pence assured. “Know that the hearts of every American are with you today.”
“To the families of the fallen, here and looking on, who have sacrificed more than we can comprehend, know that the hearts of every American are with you today,” the vice president said, adding that we do not grieve like those who have no hope, referring to a Bible passage.
“This Memorial Day, let every American renew our commitment to do our duty: to never fail,” Pence said, continuing, “Never fail to remember what they’ve done for us, and never fail to honor and cherish the families they’ve left behind, and never fail to strive each and every day to be worthy of the freedom that they won for us all.”