Ladies and Gentlemen,
Memorial Day isnít just a day for parades and fun and festivities. Itís a day to remember those who have died while defending our Stars and Stripes.
Before Memorial Day became the day to compare notes about beach traffic, to open the pool, to catch the first summer sales, it was the day to remember those who died while in the nation's service. It was originally called Decoration Day. And while the origins of customs like this are always disputed, it seems pretty clear that the custom of setting aside a day to honor the nation's war dead started in the 1860s, around the time of the Civil War.
Maybe the families started it. Maybe it was those once-removed, who wanted to find a way to show their respect and gratitude for the sacrifice made by the few for the sake of the many. Interesting that this day of commemoration is rooted in a time of such division. Even now there is the inevitable tension and distance between the two meanings of the day: on the one hand, those who just want and need a day to relax, and those who want and need a day to mourn. There's a human need for both Ė for refreshment and celebration, for pause and remembrance.
But it seems fitting that those who are not carrying the burden of grief should pause to remember those who do.
So, to the men and women who are serving around the world, to the families who support them, I thank you.
The real meaning of Memorial Day is to remember those who have paid the ultimate price in defense of their country.
Please take a moment to watch this video.
As normal, I'm going to give you some Intel:
The following is a listing of US casualties in the various conflicts that have been a part of the country's history. The numbers reflect only reported war deaths and exclude those wounded and/or missing. The Civil War still maintains the highest American casualty total of any conflict. Interesting to note the staggering number of losses in World War 2 when compared to that of World War 1 - the former being the so-called "War to End All Wars". Then there's the "Forgotten War" in Korea - this nickname despite the near-37,000 reported casualties in the conflict.
In it's first 100 years of existence, over 683,000 Americans lost their lives, with the Civil War accounting for 623,026 of that total 91.2%. Comparatively, in the next 100 years, a further 626,000 Americans died through two grand World Wars and several more localized conflicts World War 2 representing 65% of that total. Using this comparison, the Civil War might very well be the most important war that America has ever fought.
To date, over 1,322,046 Americans have died when answering The Call at all four corners of the world.