Las Vegas Sun

July 22, 2014

Currently: 86° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Sun Editorial:

Remembering the fallen

Americans should honor the sacrifices of those who died in service

Another view?

View more of the Las Vegas Sun's opinion section:

Editorials - the Sun's viewpoint.

Columnists - local and syndicated writers.

Letters to the editor - readers' views.

Have your own opinion? Write a letter to the editor.

The editorial first ran on Memorial Day 2010.

Today is Memorial Day, a day to remember those who have died in battle for our country, but its purpose is too often forgotten. It is instead better recognized as a three-day weekend that marks the unofficial start of summer. The day, however, was meant to mark a solemn occasion. It dates to 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, when Army commander Maj. Gen. John A. Logan ordered soldiers to clean and decorate the graves of their fallen comrades. Logan wrote that the nation should show its gratitude for those who “made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes.”

Indeed. Decoration Day, as it was then known, became a tradition. After World War I, it was expanded to include dead from all of the country’s wars.

In 1950, Congress passed a resolution that President Harry S. Truman signed, calling on Americans to remember the fallen and to pray for “permanent peace.” Truman noted that peace was the hope of people after World War II, but instead the world remained in “a state of continued unrest.” “Since war is the world’s most terrible scourge, we should do all in our power to prevent its recurrence,” Truman wrote.

In the following years, Congress made the last Monday in May a government holiday and has called on the public to spend a minute at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day remembering those who sacrificed. It is the least we can do as Americans.

Since the country’s founding, more than 1 million Americans have been killed in the defense of the United States. Today, the country is engaged in two wars, and more than 5,000 Americans have died serving in Afghanistan and Iraq and nearly 37,500 have been injured.

It is important to remember that the soldiers fighting today are volunteers. With an all-volunteer force, people too often forget that there are members of the military putting their lives in danger every day. They shouldn’t be forgotten.

As we consider the lives that have been given for our country, we will recall Logan’s words from 1868. He wrote that the sacrifices of the fallen soldiers should be remembered as “the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

We will also remember what President John F. Kennedy wrote in a 1961 proclamation: “Memorial Day each year provides a fitting occasion upon which our people may not only commemorate the nation’s heroic dead but also unite in prayer for the preservation of liberty and peace free from the threat of war.”

Amen.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 2 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. As a retired U.S. Navy Veteran, I will never ever forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country that I love. Never have so many Americans owed so much deep gratitude to so few. May they rest in peace and always be remembered for what they have done to make America great.

  2. Above all else remember those who have fallen represent all of us, not a select few. Those who gave their lives were Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, black, brown, asian, white, et al.