Memorial Day Message
Memorial Day Message
On May 28, 2001, we will observe Memorial Day. This special day, once known as Decoration Day, is an American day of remembrance, a day when the normal hustle and bustle of our busy live style is slowed for a moment as our nation pauses to pay tribute to her heroic sons and daughters, who gave their lives so we could live ours in freedom.
Little does it matter what name is given to this day. Its’ meaning and purpose are clear. This is a day of remembrance. It is a day to convey our love and pride in those who have gone before us, and to express our gratitude for what they have done for our nation and our people.
For many of us who observe this day, the memories that come to mind are bittersweet. They are memories of loved ones or past comrades, who, in the prime of their life, gave that life for their country, for freedom, and for all of us to enjoy that freedom today.
There are others whose memories are of young men and women who served and who, by the grace of God, came home from the wars, and returned to their communities to establish careers and families and to live out their lives with their loved ones.
Their honorable service and sacrifices must not be overlooked, and were just as important in winning and holding on to freedom as was the sacrifice of those who gave their lives on the battlefield.
Memorial Day will again be observed in cities, villages and hamlets across our state and nation this year. There will be traditional commemorative ceremonies at church, cemeteries and private visits to the gravesites of loved ones. However, in recent years, observances have paled compared to what it was and what this special day meant to previous generations.
Americans too often take for granted our freedoms and those whose service and sacrifices have sustained our liberties and cherished way of life. We also tend to forget, as quickly as possible, those things that are unpleasant. War and death certainly are not pleasant experiences.
So, while Memorial Day continues to be observed, and regarded as special by veterans and their families, more and more citizens are forgetting the real purpose behind this patriotic observance.
Future generations almost assuredly will be called upon to sacrifice for freedom. America always has been fortunate to have citizens willing to make the great personal sacrifices that go hand-in-hand with military service. But, if we don’t appreciate and honor the sacrifices made by previous generations, how can we expect future generations to make the sacrifices so willingly made by patriots.
We must work to teach our young people that our freedoms are not free, but rather were paid for with the lives, health and sacrifices of many. Memorial Day is a perfect opportunity for delivering this message to our youth and all citizens.
We must not forget those sacrifices. For, as President Calvin Coolidge warned, "The nation that forgets its’ defenders, will itself be forgotten.
GEORGE P. BASHER
Director, New York State
Division of Veterans’ Affairs