On Thursday, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) recognized five of Alabama’s fallen soldiers and their families in honor of Memorial Day: Officer Marsha Ratchford from Prichard, Sergeant Elbert Phillips from Huntsville, Sergeant Jason Jordan from Elba, Private James Joshua Jr. from Gadsden, and Private Thomas Stagg from Birmingham.

“The first stanza of our National Anthem ends: ‘O say does that star-spangled banner yet  wave o’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?’” Tuberville said. “We sing this part as a triumphant declaration, but if you read the lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner, the sentence actually ends with a question mark. Francis Scott Key intended this line to be sung as a question rather than a statement. That’s fitting because while our freedom may [seem] concrete, hate and evil threaten the security of our freedom from one generation to the next.

“Over the years, our national anthem took on a feeling of confidence and assurance, rather than uncertainty. And that’s thanks to the millions of men and women who bravely answered the call to serve. Many soldiers lost their lives to give us the security we all enjoy and the assurance we are proud of. That is what we keep in our hearts and on our minds as we honor the fallen on this Memorial Day.

“Many of our fallen service members had not yet reached the prime of their life,” Tuberville continued. “Some were still in high school when they answered the call to service. That is true for Private First-Class James Joshua Jr. of Gadsden, Alabama, who left high school to become a United States Marine at the young age of 18.”

Tuberville shared stories of soldiers whose bodies remain missing.

“...some families are still searching for answers," he said. "Like Teresa Schmitt of Huntsville, Alabama, who was only eight years old when her father, U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Elbert Phillips' airplane crashed in the Mekong River during the Vietnam War.”

He also mentioned Gold Star families, whose loved ones were lost in service to this country.

“It is impossible to speak of Gold Star families without mentioning the parents who are robbed of the joy of seeing their children grow up and have families of their own,” Tuberville said. “Danny Jordan, from Elba, Alabama, is one such Gold Star parent. Danny’s son, U.S. Army Sergeant Jason Jordan of the 101st Airborne Division, was killed in the Iraqi village of Tal Afar on the night of July 20, 2003, when his Humvee was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades.

“These are the stories of Americans who gave their lives for freedom’s cause—mothers, brothers, sisters, and sons who became heroes to all of us… These heroes lived lives of impact, driven by a desire to serve their country at any cost. We tell their story to keep their memory alive and ensure their sacrifices are never, never forgotten. And as long as there are brave men and women like those I’ve mentioned today, we can continue to sing the national anthem, not with a question mark, but with a declaration that we are the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’ As Memorial Day approaches, I hope we will take the time to honor America’s fallen, along with the brave families who they left behind, and always remember that our freedoms were won by men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

A video of Tuberville’s comments is available online.

Tuberville is serving in his first term as a U.S. Senator representing Alabama.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.

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