“Although no sculptured marble should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored.” Daniel Webster
As Memorial Day approaches, thousands will make the pilgrimage to pay honor to loved ones lost to war. Some do not have to travel far. Others will make it an honorable effort to visit many cemeteries that bear the names and are home to our fallen military men and women.
It is valued tradition for those visiting the fallen to leave behind keepsakes and other remembrances as a token of everlasting love and affection for loved ones.
Perhaps the most famous magnet for mementos is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is one of the most visited memorials in the United States. Visitors leave cards, letters, stuffed animals, flowers, war memorabilia and other items. Most are cataloged and preserved for historical and educational purposes.
The World War II Memorial and Korean War Memorial, also in Washington, D.C., also are popular sites visited by many every year. The grace and dignity of Arlington National Cemetery remains a very poignant and moving experience.
Section 60 at Arlington, where many of the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan are buried, is experiencing an abundance of keepsakes left at gravesites, including items not previously allowed to be placed at Arlington. They are now being saved and cataloged by curators at the U.S. Army Center of
I have visited them, and there are no words to express the emotions you feel when you see the memorials and touch the headstones with your hands. All I could think was, “There are so many headstones, so many names.” It just didn’t seem possible.
In 1966, Waterloo, N.Y., was proclaimed the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson. It also is home of the National Memorial Day Museum. The museum prides itself by helping tell the story of the history of Memorial Day for all who visit. This year, Waterloo will once again observe Memorial Day on the official day of May 30.
Although many valiant attempts have been made to restore Memorial Day to May 30, it continues to be observed as a three-day holiday.
U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, D-Hawaii, a World War II Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, has tirelessly tried to get Memorial Day changed back to May 30, but has found little support for his efforts.
I dedicate this to all the families, friends, organizations, veterans and workers who have faithfully and lovingly cared for the resting places and memorials of our nation’s fallen. With you, our fallen continue to be remembered and not forgotten.
To all who visit these special men and women, I know you will get a deeper appreciation of the sacrifice that they have given. If you have never attended a Memorial Day event, I encourage you to do so. You will have the opportunity to meet and say thank you to some of the greatest families in the country.
Memorial Day is not a three-day holiday for fun. It must and will always be much more. Please take a moment to remember those we have lost in every war, and we have lost so many.
As I always say, it is easy to forget if you don’t remember.