As our state pauses on this day to remember those brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in honor of freedom, I am reminded of the words of President Ronald Reagan on this occasion in 1983.

On that day, Reagan noted, “I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country. Words are even more feeble on this Memorial Day, for the sight before us is that of a strong and good nation that stands in silence and remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them. Yet, we must try to honor them — not for their sakes alone, but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.”

At the VA Maine Healthcare System, our mission is simple but compelling: to provide exceptional health care that improves the lives and well-being of Maine’s veterans. Our employees are passionate about health care, and they are passionate about veterans. We are honored to provide outstanding service to these deserving men and women. In some small way, we see our service to veterans as delivering on the promise of Reagan and others to continue to both honor them and to repay our debt to them.

At our main hospital campus at Togus or our many other sites of care around the state, the price of freedom is visible in our hallways and waiting rooms. Maine’s veterans are our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends. Many of them served alongside soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines that did not make it home. As we pause today to honor those that we have lost, let us also rededicate ourselves to the mission of serving all of those that served.

Ryan Lilly is director of the VA Maine Healthcare System.

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