By Senator Joni Ernst; May 26, 2022
Safety and freedom. These are two things that many Americans take for granted. As we live our lives — free and in the safety of our homeland — it’s easy to lose sight of the luxuries that are afforded to us. But we can never forget that these two things come at a very high cost.
Each Memorial Day, our nation honors the heroes of our country — and their families — who sacrificed their lives to keep us safe and free. We celebrate their lives, and we reflect on the unimaginable price that they bore so that hundreds of millions of Americans can enjoy that freedom and safety today.
This past year has been particularly difficult for many of our service members and their families. From the fall of Afghanistan to Vladimir Putin’s ruthless invasion of Ukraine, we have seen the world become a more dangerous place.
The events in Afghanistan have been especially challenging for many in our military community. For 20 years, following the horrific Sept. 11 attack on our country, men and women from around the nation answered the call to put on the uniform. For two decades, they successfully kept our homeland safe. That’s why our nation’s retreat and exit from Afghanistan, and the horrible images of the country being overrun by the murderous Taliban regime, were so difficult for many of our veterans, servicemembers, and their families.
Then, in the final days of our exit, came the tragedy that shook our Iowa community. A terrorist attack at the Kabul airport claimed the lives of 13 American servicemembers who were assisting with the evacuation, marking one of the deadliest days for U.S. forces in the 20-year conflict. One of those servicemembers killed was Marine Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page of Red Oak, Iowa — my hometown.
Daegan was a tough Marine, but most of all, he was an amazing young man. After graduating from Millard South High School, he answered the call to serve his country — as countless have before him — and he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He will never be forgotten.
For Daegan, his family, and every single American who answered the call to serve, we must make sure they know that their sacrifice kept America safe. These brave Americans are heroes — every single one of them. They’ve succeeded in protecting our nation and allowing us to enjoy the freedoms and liberties we possess every day.
This past year, I was proud to lead a bipartisan effort to ensure our nation will honor these heroes properly with a memorial on our National Mall. Our effort will establish what will be the Global War on Terrorism Memorial in our nation’s capital. As a veteran of the Global War on Terrorism myself, I hope this memorial will serve as a permanent testament to the men and women who fought in this war and their selflessness for generations to come. It’s a small, but important, way to honor those who gave the most unimaginable sacrifice of all for our nation.
Memorial Day is a time to remember all those who paid the ultimate price to defend our nation and our way of life. After what has been a difficult year for so many, we must never forget all those who answered the call, like Marine Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, so that hundreds of millions of Americans can be safe and free.