For many of us, Memorial Day serves as a turning point in our calendars. The beginning of summer, the end of another school year, and the start of many trips with family and friends.
While many of us are looking forward to the new season and the opportunities it will bring, it’s important that we all take a moment to pause and reflect because this weekend of celebration is rooted in the past. This day is intended for solemnity.
Memorial Day is a day unlike any other. Since 1868, we have come together with our communities, cities, and towns to place flowers and flags on the graves of those who have given their last full measure of devotion to our country.
This simple act of honoring and adorning soldier’s graves with the flowers of May gave birth to Decoration Day, now known as Memorial Day. First observed on May 30, 1868, it was a date not selected as the anniversary of a battle, but because the flowers would be in bloom all over the country, so everyone could honor our fallen soldiers.
Memorial Day is not a time to commemorate war or to push a political agenda. It is a day to celebrate valor and patriotism, to decorate these graves as a reminder of the costs of war, and to commemorate the lives sacrificed by men and women to protect our nation and the values we all hold so dear.
It is also a time to renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left behind, the widows and orphans of our brave soldiers. To these Gold Star families, Memorial Day is particularly sacred. To them, the loss is as tangible as a missing family member or a chair at the table that can never be filled.
While we can never diminish the loss, we can help those left behind. That is why I’m honored that my office was selected to sponsor one of these Gold Star Family members as a fellow. Fulfilling the federal government’s commitment to our nation’s servicemembers is one of my highest priorities in Congress, and this is a small part of fulfilling that commitment.
Yes, Memorial Day does mark the beginning of summer, but it is so much more than barbecues and picnics; it is the day we remember the sacrifices that have paved the way for the freedoms we hold dear, and the future we will have together as a nation.
As President Calvin Coolidge stated after the end of World War I, “The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.” So today, let us all make a pledge to remember these sacrifices today, and every day.
This Memorial Day, let us ignore any political noise or societal conflict and come together as one nation to remember and honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.