The holidays seem to bring people together and soften hearts far and wide. In keeping with the spirit of love and celebration, I would like to encourage all Utahns to spend some time in thankfulness and appreciation for the service members who sacrifice so much, at times their very lives, so that we can remain free.
Freedom creates happiness. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said: "Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die."
Serving as a United States Senator, I have had many opportunities to observe freedom flourishing in the hearts and spirits of many.
I often think of the many times I have visited with Utahns who are serving in our nation's armed forces. These soldiers are my heroes.
Just a few months ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Afghanistan and meet with senior U. S. military and diplomatic officials to discuss the situation on the ground. These meetings were very important and productive, but what really impacted me on this trip were the meetings I held with Utah soldiers at ISAF headquarters in Afghanistan and at the Bagram Air Base.
There is no greater honor and privilege I have as a Senator than to meet with these brave Utahns who choose to put on the uniform of our country and defend our freedoms. These Utah soldiers inspired me with their willingness to sacrifice and incredible spirit to serve.
Other special moments I have experienced with Utah soldiers have occurred at the Walter Reed Medical Center when I have had the opportunity to visit with Utah men and women who have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. When I have walked the wards of this hospital, and met with specific soldiers, I have been overwhelmingly humbled by their dedication to our nation, and willingness to sacrifice. Despite being stung by the tragedies of war, these soldiers have been upbeat and believe fervently in the cause of freedom for which they valiantly fought.
While serving in our nation's capital, I have had the opportunity to walk the halls of many of our country's greatest buildings and places where history permeates their very foundations. Yet, the feeling I get when I walk among the soldiers' graves at cemeteries in our state, country and around the world is special and inspirational.
These are the heroes who paved our road to freedom. They have sacrificed, they have died, and they are at rest. They are part of the land they made free. Heroes like my brother and two brothers-in-law have also given their lives for all of us.
So as the Christmas bells ring this season, may they peal in tribute not only to the Son whose birth we celebrate, but may they remind us of those who sacrifice every day so that we might live freely in this land we call home.