Many people say “Happy Memorial Day” and perhaps they’re the ones who see this as the day swimming pools open, the time for good retail sales bargains, and just a day off from work to BBQ and perhaps go to a baseball game.
But the proper greeting and salutation for this day is “Honor Memorial Day” for it is a day of honor, distinct and memorable. Memorial Day should be the day in America when we stop, pause and take 24 hours to ponder the service, sacrifice and commitment to those who enable us to have BBQ, baseball and swimming pools. They were the ones who said, “Here I am, send me.” They did not question. They did not hesitate. They saw they were needed, and they were there.
It was not always easy — and certainly was not fair — but when freedom called, they answered, “We are there.” All indeed gave some, but some gave all, from the bridge at Concord to the cities of Fallujah and Al Najaf to the mountain passes of Afghanistan, and all climes and places in between — they were there.
Memorial Day is when we go out and find a National Cemetery, take our kids and grandkids, and tell the story that must never be forgotten. Because for those of us who stood with these heroes, we remain to ensure their bravery and sacrifice is never forgotten. That is our mission.
So I hope over this weekend and most definitely today, you will greet people saying, “Honor Memorial Day” to inspire them to remember — and never forget.
And I shall close with the simple words of a true American president, with words that poignantly capture the essence of Memorial Day.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
– The Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln, Thursday, November 19, 1863