Memorial Day Matters

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Flag Placement at VA Nat'l Cem


A Message from the Under Secretary of Memorial Affairs

Randy Reeves

General John A. Logan first led the call for the creation of a national holiday to honor the dead from the Civil War in early May 1868.  Originally known as Decoration Day, he ultimately chose May 30 as the day when Americans should visit national cemeteries, burial plots, and Civil War battlefields to place flowers on the graves of the fallen. The outpouring of grief was a way for the nation to heal.

Over time, Memorial Day was changed to the last Monday in May, but the meaning remained the same-to honor all the  men and women who “gave their last full measure of devotion,” and who never had the chance to return home to live full and meaningful lives. 

I’d like us to focus our thoughts and actions on the true meaning of Memorial Day - because it matters.

All of us who have served in the military, especially those who served in wartime, have comrades and friends who did not return home that we think of everyday.

We must never forget the self-sacrifice that a select group of Americans made from the founding of our country through the Global War on Terrorism.  Nothing is more painful than the loss of a comrade, father, mother, son or daughter.  We owe a great debt to these men and women that we can never repay, but we must try, and we invite our friends, neighbors and co-workers to do the same.

I want to ensure no one forgets the true meaning of Memorial Day and no one forgets that behind every name is the legacy of someone who gave their life so we might live in freedom in our great nation.  

Join in this national commemoration by committing to some purposeful act of remembrance. For some, this will mean a commitment to service such as placing flags at a VA national, state, tribal or private cemetery or attending a local Memorial Day service. For others, it may mean pausing for a prayer or moment of silence at a family picnic.

As we honor those who did not return, we must also keep thoughts of the Gold Star families in our hearts and minds. It is the families left behind who bear the cost and suffer the stark reality of the price of freedom. Children of these brave men and women grow up only knowing their mother or father from the stories others tell.

So this year let's all pause, honor, remember and memorialize the fallen, ensuring their legacies never die and truly make Memorial Day matter.

RR Signature

Randy Reeves
Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs

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Mother and daughter at gravesite

Click here to watch the Under Secretary's recent message to team members about the administration's strategic efforts.

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