Monday, May 28, 2012
While the nation has hundreds of statues erected in memory of outstanding servicemen and women, there are millions more unmarked graves and unengraved stones – never capable of adequately telling the tales of sacrifice, courage and valor.
Decoration Day, it’s original name, was established three years after the Civil War ended, May 5th, 1868, when Major General John Logan, the head of a veterans organization called the Grand Army of the Republic, designated May 30th as the day to cherish “the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes.” It wasn’t until 1888 that Decoration Day was recognized as a federal holiday. Although the term “Memorial Day” was first used in 1882, it did not become more common until after World War II. Over the years, but not until after World War I, Memorial Day was expanded to honor those who died in all American wars. Memorial Day was declared the official name by Federal law in 1967, and in 1971 Congress declared Memorial Day will be observed on the last Monday in May.
Though the name has changed, it is forever a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service, and we offer our gratitude to the many unsung heroes. The legacy of these heroes is the inheritance of the freedom’s afforded throughout this nation. The valor of those fallen is forever inscribed in the story of America’s success.
Today, we commemorate the airmen, sailors, soldiers and marines who have carried the shield in America’s wars, from the American Revolution to today’s operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and paid the ultimate sacrifice. We give thanks to their unyielding dedication and faithful service to our Nation.