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Memorial Day Message from the Secretary Of Defense

National Guard Bureau

Ever since Memorial Day was established in 1868, Americans across the land have gathered together, May 24, 2002 – Ever since Memorial Day was established in 1868, Americans across the land have gathered together to remember, in ceremony and sacred observance, all those who, in the words of one soldier-poet, "tasted death in youth, that Liberty might grow old."

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American flags grace the gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. Each Memorial Day weekend, the U.S. Army’s 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) places individual flags on the graves and niches of service members buried at Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldier's and Airmen's Home National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

We carry on this solemn tradition, for only by remembering the sacrifice of those who died can we fully appreciate the price that was paid for our freedom and abundance.

This Memorial Day, we remember all who have fallen fighting oppression and tyranny, including the tyranny of terrorism. We remember as well their families and friends – and we assure them that their loved ones will not be forgotten but will live on in the hearts and minds of all of us. For as Henry Ward Beecher so movingly reminded us, "They who die for a good cause are redeemed from death."

"Are they dead," he asked, "that yet move upon society and inspire the people with nobler motives and more heroic patriotism? … Let gladness mingle with your tears," he said. "It was your son, but now he is the Nation's. He made your household bright; now his example inspires a thousand households." And so it is with all the heroes, of all the wars, who have gone before.

I urge all Americans to join together at 3:00 p.m. this Memorial Day for a national Moment of Remembrance in honor of all those who have made our freedom possible.

Donald H. Rumsfeld

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