A Time To Remember And Honor Our Fallen
By Congressman Randy Forbes, May 25, 2012
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
President Ronald Reagan spoke those prophetic words during his presidency, and this Memorial Day we must stop, reflect and give gratitude to the families of the men and woman who died protecting our liberty. The American people have always stopped to reflect on the great sacrifices that those in uniform have made and will continue to make. Memorial Day is a day to honor all those who have paid the ultimate price. We must never take for granted the sacrifice that our fellow Americans have made in defense of our Nation.
Even though we have set apart this special day for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, our troops deserve our admiration and support throughout the year, not just on a select few days. I encourage everyone to visit a war memorial, a cemetery in their neighborhood or one of many observances across the district. The men and woman who have given their lives for us come from various backgrounds, various economic and social circumstance and various geographical parts of our nation, but they all share one thing in common. They all believed in America and were willing to stand up for their beliefs. Today and every day we stand united in our gratitude for these individuals.
Memorial Day has been a long standing tradition in the United States, According to the Veterans Affairs the first form of Memorial Day was actually called Decoration Day and was held in 1868. The day was meant as a day for decorating the graves of the dead veterans with flowers. Officially, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared that Waterloo, NY was the "birthplace" of Memorial Day in 1966. You can learn more about the origins of Memorial Day by clicking here.
Memorial Day is a time for our entire nation to come together and unite behind those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The federal holiday, sales at the department store and backyard barbeques are far from the meaning of what Memorial Day truly represents. Memorial Day should always be a day to honor, remember and thank those who have fought for our liberties and lost their lives in doing so. Their selfless demeanor means that our nation lives on to fight another day. The success of the United States depends on individuals who are willing to die for what this great nation stands for. A nation with such heroes will endure the test of time and adapt to future challenges.
Memorial Day is also a day of reflection as we remember those who died on foreign battlefields around the world, thus enabling us to enjoy our way of life, our values and our freedoms. The Library of Congress has a great Veterans History Project where you can learn about the sacrifices and realities of war. I encourage everyone to spend some time learning about some of our bravest Americans by visiting this website. We should always remember that freedom has a price that some families have paid dearly for. Freedom rests on the shoulders of those who were willing to bleed and die for our nation. Those who fought and died understood the sacrifice they were making for the greater good and for the survival of our nation. As President Reagan said, Freedom needs to be protected in every generation. We have our fallen troops to thank for passing the torch of freedom to us and it is our responsibility to ensure that we pass it onto our children and grandchildren.