Written by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.
Multiple times a year, I visit Arlington National Cemetery. Every time I walk those hallowed, 624 acres, I am struck by the incredible sacrifices of those many brave souls. And, as I look out at Arlington’s sea of white gravestones, I am hit with the realization that this is not every loss–it is only a small number of those who have served our Nation, many who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
There is truly no nobler man or woman than the one who willingly steps toward danger in defense of the Nation. Those who risk their life so that others may live are deserving of the highest honor and respect that this country and our citizens can give.
Interred at Arlington–and indeed at cemeteries around the world, you will find men and women who served in every one of America’s armed conflicts, from the American Revolution through the conflicts of today. As one of our Nation’s armed services, the Coast Guard has taken its place alongside our Department of Defense brethren in every one of those conflicts and, like the other services, we have felt loss.
Our men and women put their lives on the line when they interdict vessels smuggling illicit narcotics on the high seas. They are aware of the danger when they launch for a rescue at the peak of a hurricane’s power. They put their lives on the line when they provide security for maritime infrastructure in the Persian Gulf.
Day in and day out, the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard put their lives on the line to protect others. They put Service before self.
On this Memorial Day, we remember those brave men and women who gave their all to this great Nation. We share their stories. We reflect on their courage. We honor their final act. We pay tribute to their lives.