Memorial Day 2006
Memorial Day is on the last Monday in May and honors those men and
women who lost their lives serving their country. What we celebrate
as Memorial Day today, began at the end of the Civil War. Family
members of the many soldiers slain in battle would visit the grave
sites of their fallen relatives or friends and decorate the graves
On May 5, 1868, General John Logan proclaimed this day a holiday
through his General Order No. 11. The day was entitled Decoration Day
and was first observed on May 30, 1868. The northern states
celebrated this day every year, but the southern states celebrated a
day similar to this on a different day until sometime after World War I.
In 1882, the name Decoration day was changed to Memorial Day, and in
1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday to be held on the
last Monday of May every year. Over the years it has come to serve as
a day to remember all U.S. men and women killed or missing in action in all wars.
I am truly grateful for the freedoms which we enjoy today. Too often,
we take these gifts for granted, little realizing the sacrifice which
was involved in ensuring that these freedoms continue to be a part of
all of our lives. Be honest, how many of us think of Memorial Day as
just another chance for a three-day weekend? A chance to go the lakes
or beaches or mountains? A trip to Disneyland or Six Flags or some
other amusement park?
If you are here in the United States, please remember to display the
flag, not just for the day but for the whole weekend. Let's not
forget the real reason for having this holiday. The quote below says
it all. Please take the time to read it.
"It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of
our country in wars far away. The imagination plays a trick. We see
these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something
like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray-haired. But most of them
were boys when they died, they gave up two lives -- the one they were
living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave
up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They
gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything
for their county, for us. All we can do is remember."
-- Ronald Wilson Reagan
Remarks at Veteran's Day ceremony, Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia, November 11, 1985