A Message from the 8th Secretary of Veterans Affairs About Memorial Day

On the last Monday of May, we pay tribute and acknowledge the sacrifices of courageous men and women who placed the interests of others above their own.

In service to our Nation at Guadalcanal and Bastogne, the Chosin Reservoir and Pusan, at Khe Sanh, on the DMZ, in Fallujah and Kabul, and at hundreds of other crossroads of conflict known only by grid coordinates, American men and women stood their ground, held back the forces of oppression, and advanced America’s ideals, beliefs, and values.

On Memorial Day, we pay homage to those who placed themselves on the Altar of Freedom for love of country; this is a day for remembrance, reflection, and respect—for honoring those who gave all.

Many of these heroes are at final rest in one of our national cemeteries.  Whether at Gettysburg, one of our country’s first national cemeteries, or at Cape Canaveral, a new national cemetery I had the honor of dedicating as Secretary, each VA national cemetery is a sacred place of honor befitting the great deeds and sacrifices of the fallen.

Over four million Veterans, service members, reservists, and family members—of every generation and from every war and conflict, from the Revolution to the Global War on Terror—have been laid to rest in these hallowed grounds.  The quiet serenity and strict adherence to time-honored Service traditions make our cemeteries healing places where families and friends can remember and honor those who gave, in President Lincoln’s words, “the last full measure of devotion.”

This Memorial Day, we pray for peace, for the safe return of our deployed sons and daughters, and for the families of the fallen.

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