Memorial Day, 2001


“Since 1868, Americans have celebrated Memorial Day to honor those who fought and died to preserve our freedom. We set aside one day each year to pause and reflect on the debt of gratitude we owe to the brave patriots who stood in the breach when the defense of liberty demanded the ultimate sacrifice.

“Perhaps President John F. Kennedy captured the spirit of this holiday best when he said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” By honoring the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom, we ensure that their heroic spirit will live on in this new century.

“Indeed, this spirit is alive and well in today’s Armed Forces. In the mountains of Bosnia, along the DMZ in Korea, in the rocky Sinai desert, in the skies over Iraq, and the blue waters of the Pacific, our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen stand watch — day and night — guarding freedom’s frontier. Today, as in the past, they bear the burdens that make America’s blessings possible for all its citizens.

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff and I join every American in honoring those who gave their lives — and all of their tomorrows — so that we might live in peace. We also salute the dedicated men and women of today’s Armed Forces who actively preserve this noble legacy.”

-Gen. Henry H. Shelton, USA Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff


“It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country in wars far away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray-haired. But most of them were boys when they died, they gave up two lives — the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for their county, for us. All we can do is remember.”

— Ronald Wilson Reagan – Remarks at Veteran’s Day ceremony,
Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, Virginia, November 11, 1985