FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men that died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived." -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

On Monday, May 28, many from this community will join me at the Fort Jackson National Cemetery to honor those members of our Armed Forces who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

Memorial Day, for many Americans, marks the unofficial start of summer with backyard barbecues, a trip to the lake or just relaxing and enjoying a long weekend. But for many of us, Memorial Day holds a much deeper meaning.

The men and women we will honor Monday came from all walks of life, from every corner of this nation. They were our fathers, sons, our mothers and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our friends and neighbors. They were ordinary people who were asked to make extraordinary sacrifices for their country.

They answered the call to arms for a higher purpose -- to preserve liberty, justice, equality, and the right to live in a world free from oppression.

Their headstones, found on virtually every continent, are each individual memorials to the cause of freedom.

Memorial Day, which was officially proclaimed in 1868, became widespread by 1902, and was named a federal holiday in 1971. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. The holiday, which is rooted in the Civil War period, was a day set aside for decorating graves and honoring fallen Soldiers in various ways. There were separate holidays for Union and Confederate Soldiers.

That all changed after World War I. The two holidays were combined as Memorial Day. And the holiday was set aside to honor the fallen from all wars.

In the past decade, our country has many young Soldiers who are deeply missed by their loved ones and fellow military members. In the purest sense, they have rendered a sacrifice that we, the living, cannot repay.

We count our friends, our family and our comrades in arms among those who have given their lives in service to this great nation.

We also remain vigilant against those who threaten us and band together, as we have done so in the past, to truly build a better future for future generations.

Please join us 9 a.m. Monday at the Fort Jackson National Cemetery as we remember and honor all our fallen service members. If you can't make the ceremony, remember to join with millions of Americans for a Moment of Remembrance and observe a minute of silence at 3 p.m.

We must never lose sight about what Memorial Day means. It's not about beaches, picnics or auto races; it is a day to remember.

Victory starts here! Victory 6!