Take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of the day.
On Dec. 28, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act. The act designates 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day each year as the National Moment of Remembrance in honor of the men and women of the United States who died in the pursuit of freedom and peace.
"Each Memorial Day, the nation honors those Americans who died while defending our nation and its values," Clinton wrote in announcing the signing of the Act. "While these heroes should be honored every day for their profound contribution to securing our nation's freedom, they and their families should be especially honored on Memorial Day. The observance of a National Moment of Remembrance is a simple and unifying way to commemorate our history and honor the struggle to protect our freedoms."
The movement to hold a National Moment of Remembrance began in 1996 after the humanitarian organization No Greater Love quizzed children on the meaning of Memorial Day.
According to the website thememorialdaytribute.com, "It was agonizing to hear their remarks that were all associated with barbecues and extended weekend parties and celebration, while they hadn't the vaguest idea about the sacrifices of the soldiers in whose honor it is celebrated. One of the children was even quoted as saying that this was the day when swimming pools open."
Congress in 1971 designated the last Monday in May as Memorial Day, but the roots of the remembrance extend back to 1868, when Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, first initiated the practice of honoring fallen military members, and flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
Sadly, war is woven into the fabric of our nation as tightly as the red, white and blue threads that make up our flag. And with each conflict has come death as men and women have put service to country above even their own lives.
We owe our freedoms to those who came before us, fought for us and, in many instances, died for us.
Today, we honor each of them for their sacrifice.