“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jesus–John 15:13).
In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson and Congress, declared Waterloo, N.Y., the official “birthplace” of Memorial Day. It was there, local veterans who had fought in the Civil War, were honored in a ceremony on May 5, 1866.
By the end of the 19th century, throughout the nation, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30.
However, after World War I, the day was enlarged to honor all those who have died in any American war. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.
I am a proud veteran of the Vietnam War. One out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam was a casualty. 58,169 were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.59 million who served; that number, 58,169, has haunted me most of my life. Many have judged that war as being a political and financially driven circus. But, please do not dishonor the dead patriots, or their families, by speaking that way, even if true. They gave their lives for America and Americans, not for any lesser reason.
To all my fallen brothers and sisters may I say, “Thank you!” My gratitude runs deep in my heart and soul. A day, a thought, a thankful heart, could never be enough to show our sincere praise for your great sacrifice, but they are all we have to share for you. Your selfless sacrifices will live on in the kind hearts of your fellow Americans. Celebrate Memorial Day, but never forget . . . never forget!