Memorial Day was officially proclaimed in May of 1868 by General John Logan, national Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and was first observed that year on May 30 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1971 Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday.
Since it was first proclaimed over 625,000 U.S. service members have been lost. As alarming as that number is, we must remember that each one of these brave men and women had a family. They were someone’s son or daughter, someone’s husband or wife, someone’s brother or sister. Many of them left behind their own children.
Though it is imperative that we support our troops still overseas and those that have recently returned home, it is important that we remember, honor, and understand all those who have served: from Fort McHenry to the Battle of Plattsburgh; from the trenches of Aisne to Belleau Wood; from the beaches of Guadalcanal to the beaches of Normandy; from the Chosin Reservoir to Heartbreak Ridge; from the highlands of Dak To to the jungle of Khe Sanh; from Fallujah to Kandahar; and countless other battlefields around the world.
As we enjoy ourselves this Memorial Day weekend, let us remember what is engraved on the Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C.: Freedom Is Not Free