Memorial Day is something we look forward to each year. For many of us, it is the unofficial start of summer, family time, and beach vacations. It is a time to get away and relax. But there is a deeper meaning to this special day that is rooted in rich history and American tradition. Dating back to 1868, Decoration Day (which we now know as Memorial Day), was a day when Civil War veterans gathered to commemorate the sacrifice of the fallen. Having been an especially bloody conflict, the years after the Civil War were an opportune time to come together and recall shared sacrifices. The first grand Memorial Day ceremony took place at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia.
From the American Revolution, Civil War, and two world wars, Americans have always supported the cause of freedom. In many cases, this has been made possible by the sacrifice of American treasure on foreign battlefields. While our nation remains an imperfect experiment, it has not diminished our commitment to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. As President Kennedy so aptly observed in his 1961 inaugural address, Americans “shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
On this Memorial Day, take a step back from the partisanship and bickering, and take solace in remembering the many countless American men and women who have given their lives for us to exercise the freedoms we have today--the freedom to think, speak, agree and to disagree, and many more. We owe it to them today and every day.