Originally Published: May 29, 2011 9:30 p.m.
This Memorial Day, it is important that we take the time out of our busy schedules to reflect, honor, and remember the men and women who have died while serving our country. It is those men and women that have contributed to our freedom and safety as Americans. All too often we forget that freedom is not free. A huge price is paid with the lives of the brave men and women who have chosen to serve in our country's armed services. It is my hope that this Memorial Day you will look beyond the barbeques and department store sales to remember what this day is really set aside for. I ask you to honor their sacrifice by reviewing your commitment to our country.
Please remember too, the sacrifice of the wounded soldiers on this special day. I personally would also like to take this time to honor Corporal Colbey Yazzie, a resident of Kayenta, who volunteered to serve our nation and join the elite ranks of the United States Marine Corps. Corporal Yazzie was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and assigned to the Marine Corps Combat Engineers. He was gravely wounded while supporting combat operations when engaged in a dismounted Marine force patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Corporal Yazzie's service was not free; he paid a huge price. On March 26, in an effort to save lives, Yazzie detonated a push plate improvised explosive device while on combat patrol, and the resulting explosion severed his right leg above the knee. Corporal Yazzie, we honor your service. I believe that Yazzie's dedication and sacrifice was so important to our country that I chose to memorialize his story in the Congressional Record. To the others in all branches of the armed services, please know, I honor your service and sacrifice as well. You are not forgotten. You are appreciated more than you know and are constantly in my thoughts and prayers.
Nor can we forget the men and women who serve in a medical treatment capacity for our veterans as well, who often arrive home in need of intensive care. One such person is Dr. Cameron McKinley. I have introduced a bill that would name the Department of Veterans Affairs Vet Center in Prescott after him. Dr. McKinley served his nation in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve after World War II, treated soldiers overseas during the Vietnam War, and became the Chief Psychologist at the Prescott Veterans Affairs Hospital where he did groundbreaking work in treating post traumatic stress disorder and helping veterans reintegrate into their communities after the strife and the honor of war. His tireless efforts to help our troops and veterans have inspired so many people, including myself. I cannot think of a more fitting tribute than to honor his service by joining the multitude of Yavapai residents and veterans in renaming the Prescott vet center.
It is men and women like Corporal Yazzie, Dr. McKinley, and millions of others who have served, along with the hundreds of thousands who have fallen, that we honor and remember. It is these men and women that have given us the ability to continue to vote freely, debate freely, to worship freely, and the independence and freedom that so many others strive to attain. Their voice now must be your voice. I would encourage you to use your voice, share your opinions and concerns, and get involved. Engage your American spirit and let's reach out to those who have served and offer your hand to help and say thank you. Let them know our nation is great because of them, stronger because of them, and freer because of them. God bless you, God bless our service men and women, and God bless America!