The first Memorial Day (Decoration Day) was observed in 1868, and for 144 years Americans have honored those who've died in the service of our country.
My family has been lucky. While several of them served in two world wars, we've lost only one family member in combat. When I think of him, when I pause to remember all those I never knew who gave their lives, I also give thanks to those who fought and survived. While they didn't pay the ultimate price, they often sacrificed other things: youth, health, time with those they loved, and often their potential for becoming who they were once destined to be.
Each Memorial Day I hope that peaceful negotiation will replace the destruction of war and that we won't add more men and women to the list that we honor on this day.
We must be prepared to make heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace that we make ungrudgingly for the cause of war. Albert Einstein
The days, the weeks, the years out here shall come back again, and our dead comrades shall then stand up again and march with us, our heads shall be clear, we shall have a purpose, and so we shall march, our dead comrades beside us, the years at the Front behind us: – against whom, against whom? All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
The fight was lost. The dragons were coming with invincible strides. The army, helpless in the matted thickets and blinded by the overhanging night, was going to be swallowed. War, the red animal, war, the blood swollen god, would have bloated fill. The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane