By Congressman Tom Rice

News reporter and Director of the United States Office of War Information, Elmer Davis, once said, “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a special time Americans everywhere set aside to honor the brave servicemen and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. As we remember the fallen today, we also celebrate their lives and the legacy they have left behind.

From the first shot heard around the world, to the beaches of Normandy, and all the way to the mountains of Afghanistan, our military has proven to be a fortress of freedom, but this did not happen without a cost. Our freedom was never free and will never be free; and no one understands this more than the families who have lost a loved one in combat.

My father, Tommy Rice Sr., served in the United States Army and fought in Korea. If anything ever happened to my father, my mother would have had to provide for our family during a time of unimaginable grief. Widows and widowers whose spouses have perished during military service to our country should have their needs met just as they would if their spouses were still alive. This is the least we owe these patriotic families who have sacrificed so much for all of us.

Under current law, if a member of the National Guard or Reserve component of the military dies in the line of duty, their survivor benefits can be calculated differently than those on active duty. This is wrong.

To ensure fair treatment for our guardsmen and reservists, I have co-authored H.R. 1770 with Congressman Jason Chaffetz. This legislation will eliminate the different treatment for those in the National Guard and Reserves who give the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. This is the right thing to do, and I will be working to get this bill signed into law.

As living citizens of the United States, I believe it is our duty to continue the fight our fallen soldiers have courageously fought. We must fight for liberty, freedom, and justice for all, so our children and grandchildren can live and prosper freely just as we have.

I agree with Elmer Davis — we are truly the home of the free because of each of our courageous military members, and for this we are forever grateful.

Tom Rice represents the 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Georgetown County. He lives in Horry County.