This month Americans around the world will pause to observe Memorial Day.
Since its first official proclamation as Decoration Day on May 5, 1868, and its first observance on May 30, 1868, it has been a day of remembrance for those who sacrificed and died in our nation’s service.
Born from the tradition across many the towns affected with losses from the Civil War, mourners from these areas honored all of their war dead by decorating grave markers with flowers.
Calling to mind the history and tradition of Decoration Day, I ask that you all put special effort into the “memorial” part of this holiday.
Living and serving in Europe gives all of us the unique opportunity to travel and explore the vast cultural and historical sites here. Among those are the American Battle Monuments Commission’s 24 American cemeteries and 25 memorial monuments and markers in 15 countries, most of which are in U.S. Army Europe’s area of responsibility.
I encourage you to take time during your tour to visit some of these historical sites; I promise you a somber, yet inspirational experience. Even more special is an experience taking part in the many special Memorial Day observances held at these special and hallowed places.
As we emerge from over a decade of war, we must renew our pledge on this Memorial Day to do all we can to ensure that the sacrifices of our service members and their families are honored, and that those who fell in battle are remembered.
They fought for us. Our duty is to fight to make sure they are never forgotten.
As Americans, that must be our charge and our sacred mission not just on Memorial Day, but every day.
To those who died securing peace and freedom, to those who served in conflict to protect our land and to preserve the hope of our nation in keeping America free for over two centuries, we owe our thanks and our honor. It is important to not only recognize their service, but also respect their devotion to duty and ensure that the purpose for which they fought will never be forgotten.
This Memorial Day, I also ask you to remember that you have an obligation to those you love, to those that you serve with and to those in your community — it is to remember and celebrate the lives of our fallen safely and responsibly.
I am truly grateful for your service and great support to our nation and it is an honor to serve beside each and every one of you here in U.S. Army Europe.
For more information on the American Battle Monuments Commission cemeteries, visit www.abmc.gov.