From John R. Campbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is set aside as a day to remember those men and women who have died in service to our nation. Though there are many stories about its actual beginning, with more than two dozen cities and towns claiming to be the “birthplace” of Memorial Day, there is no question as to the importance of honoring the American Service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our freedom and security.
First observed in 1868, Memorial Day became a National Holiday in 1971. Today, most Americans see Memorial Day as little more than a day off meant for barbecues, outdoor recreation and spending time with friends and family. However, working with wounded, ill and injured recovering Service members every day has reminded me of the original—and greater—purpose of Memorial Day. We are so fortunate to live in this great country, and we owe much to our fallen Service men and women, who have made the ultimate sacrifice in wars dating all the way back to the American Revolution.
To help re-educate Americans about the true meaning and purpose of Memorial Day, in 2000 a resolution was passed that asks all Americans at 3p.m. local time, to “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.’”
This Memorial Day weekend, I invite you to take this resolution to heart and make some time to recognize the sacrifices of fallen Service members from every era, which ensure that we are able to live in a free and open society.
For those living in or near Washington, D.C., Arlington National Cemetery will be hosting several Memorial Day events throughout the weekend, including a ceremony at the Memorial Amphitheater today at 11a.m.
The Department of Veterans Affairs website also includes a listing of other national and state veterans cemeteries.