ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – Americans gather across the Nation on Memorial Day to remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. The tradition we know today began as Decoration Day over 150 years ago as communities, both large and small, decorated graves with wreaths, flowers and flags. That local tradition became a national commemoration in 1868 and ultimately, in 1971, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act establishing present-day Memorial Day.
This day of reflection honors our brothers and sisters-in-arms who did not return home. They remain a constant example of true selfless service, courage and valor. While many of our Nation’s fallen are interred at Arlington National Cemetery and in locations around the U.S., others haven’t returned to American soil. They are laid to rest in places like Normandy, Brittany, Flanders Field and Corozal.
Memorial Day carries a different meaning for many. Some will remember a teammate, a friend, a brother or sister-in-arms who fell on the field of battle. Our Gold Star Families will remember a loved one with a smile or tear; for only they know the true cost of freedom. Others will visit a veteran’s grave and express their gratitude with a flag. This day touches the hearts of all Americans, even if we experience it in different ways.
The men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice represent the best of our Nation. We must continue to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day to honor the legacy of our fellow Americans who wore the uniform. Let us remember the fallen and their families, honor their sacrifice and never forget freedom is their gift to us.