Op/ed: Honoring soldiers’ sacrifices

We now recognize another Memorial Day. In the past year, we have lost more men and women as they defended the greatest country. Their families will honor their lives and tremendous sacrifices for the first time in just a few days.

It is my earnest hope that, as Americans, we remember that each drop of blood spilled — each life lost — is precious. It is with their very lives that our soldiers carried out the mission given to them.

In a tribute to our fallen soldiers, Pennsylvania dedicated a plot of 4 acres to become the tree-lined area known as Soldiers’ Grove, the Commonwealth’s Medal of Honor Memorial. The land was set aside in 1785 as part of the original town plan for the anticipated establishment of Harrisburg as the state capitol. Located behind the Capitol, the park is a memorial to all Pennsylvanians who have served in the United States Armed Forces.

Included within wave-like arcs that represent various conflicts are granite slabs with the names of each Medal of Honor recipient from Pennsylvania, dating back to the Civil War when the medal was first created. With Pennsylvania being second in the nation for the number of Medal of Honor recipients, maintaining Soldiers’ Grove is important as a sign of respect and gratitude for our veterans.

House Bill 1484, drafted by Rep. Mark Gillen, R-Berks/Lancaster, requires the Department of General Services to preserve the current memorial scheme while facilitating its growth needs with limited space and capacity going forward.

More than a million courageous Americans who have gone before us have defended the ideals that we still hold dear today. They have defended us against every affront we faced. As they faced the gruesome realities of war that so many Americans will never know, they fought valiantly.

Without making the effort to remember the terror, overwhelming grief and anger associated with war, the cost of the war becomes devalued. Younger generations live without a respect for the men and women who keep us safe.

This Memorial Day, please take the time to connect with our soldiers’ experiences. Visit the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum located close by in Media, take a trip to Harrisburg to experience a quiet afternoon in Soldiers’ Grove or sit down with a family member who served.

There are countless ways to remind ourselves of the sacrifices made in the name of freedom and security. As we reflect on the endless dedication of the men and women who have given everything to our great country, the legacy of the heroes remains alive.

State Rep. Stephen Barrar, R-160

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