Happy Memorial Day, which is today. But as we use the day and weekend to gather with family and friends to travel and have good times, let us also remember the meaning of this day. According to the Congressional Research Service, it is a day of reflection and remembrance of those who died while serving in the U.S. military. The holiday began as “Decoration Day” on May 30, 1868 as a remembrance of the estimated more than 700,000 service members, both Union and Confederate, who died between 1861 and 1865 in the American Civil War. But there are even earlier remembrances, such as when more than 10,000 people, with many of them being Black, marched in a parade and listened to speeches in Charleston, South Carolina that dedicated the graves of Union soldiers.

And there are noteworthy quotes from many Americans to commemorate those fallen soldiers, including the following:

  • “We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation’s destroyers.” Abolitionist Frederick Douglass
  • “I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung.” Then-Congressman James A. Garfield in an address at Arlington National Cemetery
  • “May we never forget that Freedom isn’t free.” Unknown
  • “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • “We don’t know them all, but we owe them all.” Unknown
  • “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.” General George S. Patton
  • “We are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free.” President Ronald Reagan

Yes, of course, we should enjoy the Memorial Day Holiday, but as we do let us all try to remember, respect and honor those men and women who have died in the military service of our country so that we could have that enjoyment! And we can make it more of a Memorial Significance by participating in a moment of silence at 3:00 this afternoon, local time, wherever we are!

Quote for the week (if you can take one more): “You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” Coach Johnny Wooden

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President

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