Allow me to take this opportunity to reiterate how pleased I am to be able to stand the post with you one last time here at historic Fort Monroe. Jill and I are fortunate to once again join the TRADOC family, and we thank you for the heartwarming welcome.

Like most Americans, I look forward to the 2011 Memorial Day weekend and all the activities announcing the start of summer.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who died in our Nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. It’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day, and is more likely that it had many separate beginnings.

It is not important who was the very first; what is important is that Memorial Day was established. What is important is that at each of these towns and at every gathering, people tapped into the human need to honor our fallen warriors. What is important is that Memorial Day is about reconciliation and about coming together as a Nation to honor those who gave their all.

I ask that as you plan your Memorial Day activities, take time to pay homage to…

- those in past and present wars who have given their lives in the name of freedom and democracy, for they paid the ultimate price;

- those deployed in harm’s way bravely standing the post and fighting for freedom around the world, they are securing our liberties;

- our Wounded Warriors, for they know all too well that to serve can often mean great personal sacrifice.

May God bless them and their families, and may God bless the United States of America.

Robert W. Cone
General, U.S. Army