On Memorial Day, Let’s Honor The Fallen
Every year at the end of May, we mark the beginning of summer with the arrival of Memorial Day. It’s a federal holiday seized by millions of Americans to create new memories with their loved ones, or to get some rest from the daily demands of work. But it’s important we take a moment to remember the meaning of this special annual tradition, which is to honor the brave men and women who gave their lives in the line of duty. Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was established over 150 years ago in the aftermath of the Civil War. In May of 1868, nearly 5,000 people gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to place flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers. Led by former Union general and future president James Garfield, they established this day of remembrance to reconcile the deep divisions left in the wake of that bloody war. “We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens,” Garfield said in a speech that day. “For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” A century and a half later, we keep honoring that tradition by honoring our fallen on the last Monday of May. On Memorial Day, we also remember the Gold Star Families that have lost a loved one in the service of our country. Every year, this day serves as a reminder of our toughest challenges, our military triumphs, and our servicemembers’ sacrifices. Without these brave men and women and their families, we’d be unable to enjoy the freedoms that we so often take for granted, like the freedom to vote for our representatives, to practice our religion freely, or to have a safe holiday with our loved ones. In the American spirit of gratitude, let’s leave our differences aside to honor our fallen heroes, and take a moment to remember how blessed we are to live in this wonderful, amazing nation. U.S. REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT, D-Scranton, represents Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District.