Ronald Reagan, 1986:
Memorial Day is an occasion of special importance to all Americans, because it is a day sacred to the memory of all those Americans who made the supreme sacrifice for the liberties we enjoy. We will never forget or fail to honor these heroes to whom we owe so much. We honor them best when we resolve to cherish and defend the liberties for which they gave their lives. Let us resolve to do all in our power to assure the survival and the success of liberty so that our children and their children for generations to come can live in an America in which freedom’s light continues to shine.
The Congress, in establishing Memorial Day, called for it to be a day of tribute to America’s fallen, and also a day of national prayer for lasting peace. This Nation has always sought true peace. We seek it still. Our goal is peace in which the highest aspirations of our people, and people everywhere, are secure: peace with freedom, with justice, and with opportunity for human development. This is the permanent peace for which we pray, not only for ourselves but for all generations.
The defense of peace, like the defense of liberty, requires more than lip service. It requires vigilance, military strength, and the willingness to take risks and to make sacrifices. The surest guarantor of both peace and liberty is our unflinching resolve to defend that which has been purchased for us by our fallen heroes.
On Memorial Day, let us pray for peace — not only for ourselves, but for all those who seek freedom and justice.
Normally on this day, I’d try to write something that captures the meaning and purpose of Memorial Day. My friend Bruce McQuain at QandO managed to do it with a single picture, which he has dedicated to his friend Stuart Lee Barnett, lost in Vietnam on August 26, 1970. It reminds us that not everyone “celebrates” Memorial Day:
- The Anchoress remembers Staff Sgt. Martin Richburg and more
- Doug Powers remembers Steve Powers at the Boss Emeritus’ site
- Fausta remembers the first Memorial Day (then Decoration Day)
- Bruce Walker remembers the forgotten at The American Thinker (via Instapundit)
- Jim Vicevich remembers with a flag ceremony
- JD Johannes remembers those who sacrificed to allow others to live
I’ll be spending the day with family, and wish all of you a good and thoughtful Memorial Day.
Update: Midas in the comments finds the information on the soldier whose grave is depicted in the picture:
After graduating from Duke, Regan turned down a job offer from UBS, a financial services company, and a scholarship to Southern Methodist University’s law school to enlist in the Army, where he passed on Officer Candidate School to focus on becoming a Ranger.
“He said, ‘If I don’t do it, then who will do it?'” said Regan’s fiancee, Mary McHugh, a medical student at Emory University who, like scores of others at the Park Avenue house yesterday, wore Regan’s high school graduation photo clipped to her shirt. “He recognized it as an option and he couldn’t not do it.”
Army Sergeant James John Regan was born June 27, 1980, in Rockville Centre, New York. He graduated from Chaminade High School in Mineola, New York, where his lacrosse skills earned him a scholarship to Duke. There, while earning a bachelor’s degree in economics, he played midfield on two teams that won conference championships and one that reached the NCAA semifinals.
Regan enlisted in February 2004 and spent three years in the Army, earning a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and several medals marking his service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He went to the Army’s language training school and read about the countries he patrolled, but remained humble enough to make his three sisters laugh with a Borat film-character impression or explain the region’s centuries-old conflict to his mother, Mary Regan, when he was home for Christmas.
He was “a best friend to everyone he knew,” said his youngest sister, Michaela, 16.
Regan’s stint in the Army was to end in February 2008, and he and McHugh planned to marry the next month. They were to move to the Chicago area, where her family lives, and he was going to become a social studies teacher and coach lacrosse.
Please keep the Regans and Ms. McHugh in your prayers today. James John Regan, Sergeant, Army Ranger, gave his last full measure of devotion on February 12, 2007.