Memorial Day Message Of Senator Patrick Leahy

For all of us, Memorial Day is the ‘kick off’ of summer.  Especially after the struggles we all have faced during the last year, this is a particularly welcome and highly anticipated day to gather with family and friends, have cookouts, shake off a long winter and Mud Season, and get on with our summer activities. 

The root of the word memorial is memory.  My hope is that we all will also pause to remember that the true spirit of this day is to remember that we are able to come together, as families and friends, because of the sacrifices of those who served and who gave their lives in our armed forces.

Throughout our nation’s history, men and women have answered the call to duty.  They have said goodbye to those they have held dear, those they have loved and befriended, and traveled off to foreign lands to protect and defend our way of life.

For the women and men we pay homage to today, that was their last goodbye.  There were no more family gatherings, no more cookouts with friends, no more days of summer to enjoy.  No full lives in which to know and enjoy their children and grandchildren.

When speaking to the Corps of Cadets at West Point in 1962, General Douglas MacArthur said:  “However hard the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind.”

So as we get together with family and friends this Memorial Day, I invite us all to take time to remember those who came together as members of our armed forces and gave their lives for our country in time of war.

Be kind to each other, help someone who is down on his or her luck, be an active member in your community, and engage in our democracy.

Make those we honor today proud of what we have done with the freedom for which they have given their last full measure of devotion. 

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[Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is Vermont’s senior U.S. Senator.]