Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) discussed his new book Sacred Duty about his time serving in "The Old Guard" and honoring fallen American soldiers during an appearance on Fox News's Fox & Friends on Monday.
"One of the most meaningful things I've done is serving in the military, and if I wasn't serving in Iraq or Afghanistan leading troops in combat, I can't think of anything more meaningful than serving at Arlington National Cemetery with The Old Guard honoring our nation's fallen heroes and everything they mean to America," Cotton said.
Created in 1784, The Old Guard is the oldest regiment in the army and has been the army's official ceremonial unit since 1948. The regiment sometimes performs more than 20 funerals per day. They also jumped into action after the Pentagon was hit on 9/11.
"On 9/11, when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon, funerals continued to go on, but The Old Guard also rushed down to the Pentagon to help provide military aid and security on that site. In a way it became the first army unit to deploy to a new battlefield in the war on terrorism," Cotton said.
"For the first 170 years before The Old Guard came to Arlington in 1948, they were serving on the front lines of almost every war, all the way up to World War II. The story of The Old Guard's history is kind of the story of America as a nation," Cotton added.
Cotton served in The Old Guard during the height of the troop surge in Iraq from 2007 to 2008. He recalled a funeral for a dozen American soldiers who died in a 2007 helicopter crash.
"It was the biggest single funeral I can recall. We rehearsed that funeral for several days because we wanted to make sure that for every one of those families they got that last perfect moment of honor," Cotton said.
Cotton encouraged celebrating the lives of the heroes buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
"I think it's important to remember Patton's old line that we shouldn't just mourn the fact that these men and women died. We should celebrate the fact that they lived and the kind of life they lived of service and sacrifice," he said.