Reflecting this Memorial Day

While most of us are celebrating the “unofficial” start of summer, barbecuing with family or opening up the pool, I want to take a moment to reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. As a mother of an active duty soldier, I know what fear lies in the hearts of parents who send their children off to war. Zach enlisted at the age of 19, following in his father’s footsteps to join the military. It was 2007 and we were in the middle of a war. I sent my son off to war three times and know that I am blessed that he returned to me safe and sound.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to hear from a family whose young son made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Khizr Khan and his wife lost their son in 2004 when he sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers. The Khans became national figures last year, when during the Democratic Convention, they spoke out against the hate and fear mongering of Trump. They represent the heart of the Democratic Party and the values we stand for. He spoke last weekend about the need to be resilient, the need to continue to stand up and speak out for our beliefs. He told all of us to never silence our voice, that one person speaking out can have an enormous ripple effect throughout our society.

We are living in times that are troubling and fearful. People are unsure of what the future holds. Families are waiting to see if their healthcare will be taken away, children are wondering if they will come home to find their parents have been deported, women are facing obstacle after obstacle when trying to make reproductive health choices, my friends in the LGBTQ community are scared that the human rights that they recently won and fought so hard for will be stripped away, and parents everywhere are scared that their sons and daughters will be sent off to another war. In times like these it is so important that we remember what we stand for what we believe in.

I will never stop fighting back against those who try to strip away our values and the rights that our brave men and women in uniform have fought for. On this Memorial Day I’m reflecting on the words of Mr. Khan, and trying to forge a path forward through this darkness. I know that our shared vision for the future of our state can be achieved. That vision is one where we lift up all those around us and support one another through all hardships. While this is a day to remember those who are no longer with us, whose lives were cut short fighting battles to keep us all safe, we must also take the time today to think about the future of our state and this country.

Together we can create lasting change for all Virginians and all Americans.


Tilly Blanding


Blue Star mother Tilly Blanding and Gold Star father Khizr Khan at the FCDC Jefferson Obama dinner.