It’s been said that a nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten. We tell the world who we are as a country by how we honor our fallen heroes on this sacred Memorial Day — and every day.

I lost my dad earlier this month, making this my first Memorial Day without him. My dad served during the Korean War where he was stationed in Germany. He was incredibly proud to be a veteran, and he is now laid to rest among so many heroes at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. A newspaperman, he loved to write about “heroes among us” — ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

That phrase applies to all of our nation’s servicemembers and veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice, showing immense bravery and selflessness “to preserve our heritage of freedom,” as President Eisenhower once said. Today, we continue to support those who protect this heritage by properly honoring the fallen.

Fallen servicemembers like Quentin Gifford, from Mankato, who was on the U.S.S. Oklahoma when it was torpedoed during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Navy awarded Quentin both the Purple Heart and the World War II Victory Medal after his death, but his remains were left unidentified. Lost but not forgotten, Quentin’s brothers — both veterans — provided DNA to forensic scientists that helped identify their brother’s remains.

Around the world, we see reminders of how heroes among us have sacrificed — from overseas landmarks to our own backyards.

We see one of those memorials — which was erected just this year — in a farm field near St. Cloud. In 2019, Chief Warrant Officer Rogers, Chief Warrant Officer Nord, and Sergeant Plantenberg of the Minnesota Army National Guard tragically lost their lives in a helicopter crash. They made the ultimate sacrifice. Their Black Hawk helicopter went down on the property of Larry and Helen Krippner, who quickly assembled a temporary flagpole and raised the Stars and Stripes above a snow-covered field to signify to the families of the fallen that they were thinking of them. What began as a single flagpole is now continued on by a permanent memorial honoring their legacies.

On this Memorial Day, we carry that spirit forward in remembering the heroes among us whose commitment to our country never wavered, even during the most difficult times.

To all those who served, who are serving, or who are remembering a loved one who made the ultimate sacrifice, we honor you, today and every day. — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

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