“This Memorial Day, I ask all Americans to honor the sacrifices of those who have served you and our country. One way to do so is by joining in a moment of remembrance that will be marked across our country at 3:00 p.m. local time. At that moment, Major League Baseball games will pause, the National Memorial Day parade will halt, Amtrak trains will blow their whistles, and buglers in military cemeteries will play Taps. You can participate by placing a flag at a veteran’s grave, taking your family to the battlefields where freedom was defended, or saying a silent prayer for all the Americans who were delivered out of the agony of war to meet their Creator. Their bravery has preserved the country we love so dearly.” (President Bush in his radio address.)
Memorial Day isn’t a day to honor our veterans or those serving on active duty. Those distinguished groups are honored on other days – Veterans Day and Armed Forces Day. Memorial Day, first established in 1868, was created to honor those who have died serving our country. It is a day for remembrance and solemn thought, for prayer and reflection.
It isn’t just a day off. It was designated a national holiday to pay homage to those who gave their very lives for us.
It isn’t just a day to go to the beach, or to hike, or do lawn work. Do those things, but do them with an appreciation that those priviledges were hard won.
It isn’t a day to enjoy the pleasures of life in these United States, unless you do so with the understanding that we live in peace – even as a war rages – only through the sacrifices that others have made to guarantee it.
Memorial Day is a special, sacred day. Many Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coastguardsmen were killed far from home and never returned to their families and loved ones. But in shedding their blood for people they never knew, they became loved ones to us all.
At 1500 local time, all across the country, we are asked to observe a minute of silence as a quiet salute to those who were lost to us. Buglers will play taps, flags will fly, whistles will blow, and ball games will be paused; and in the process we gather their spirits to hold them forever in our hearts, never to be lost again.