SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Lawmakers began Memorial Day with state leaders honoring Utah soldiers who have given their lives while in service.

On Monday morning, Governor Spencer Cox and Utah Senator Mitt Romney spoke to a crowd of hundreds in attendance at the Utah State Capitol.

“There are some people who lived here, but will live here no longer because they sacrificed their lives to help provide for the freedoms we enjoy,” said Romney.

Romney and Cox both spoke at the ceremony, honoring both current and retired military members while reflecting on the lives lost while protecting the nation.

“Today is a day where we set aside thoughts and prayers and appreciate them and also reach out to the gold star families that have lost a loved one,” said Romney.

Leaders also spoke about the service men and women who have personally impacted their lives.   

“I am thinking of my friend and personal hero Brent Taylor who, just days before his tragic death in Afghanistan, was encouraging people back home to exercise their right to vote and get involved in building up their communities for the better,” said Cox.

Romney emphasized the importance of thanking the military for the opportunities afforded to citizens today.

“This bounty of life is our thanks to the men who women who won our freedom, who protect us from oppressors and who defend our nation from threats here and abroad,” Cox said. 

Cox reflected on the personal friends he has lost during combat, while also speaking to the families who have loved ones serving in the military. 

“They’ve been sobering conversations,” said Cox. “We’ve talked to people who have lost loved ones fighting for our freedoms and that’s always a devastating conversation.”

Cox expressed gratitude for the children in attendance, saying he’s hopeful for the future of our country. 

Leaders remarked that the rain, gloomy weather on Monday serves as an apt reminder of the sacrifice for our freedoms, and noted that people in the military deserve more than just one day in the year to be honored.