These tributes on this Memorial Day 2010 are to the men and women of America who gave everything in defense of our freedoms and our Country and to their families and friends. Today is an opportunity for all of us to say "Thank You" to all the veterans of America who have died and to those who have fought and are fighting today for Freedom and to protect this Nation.
Grew up in small town in Ohio where every Memorial Day there was a parade in our town from downtown to the cemetary with the high school marching band playing patriotic songs along with members of the military, cub scouts, girl scouts, dignataries and other groups. When the parade reached the top hill befire the cemetary the song became slow and mournful as the parade went down the hill and entered the cemetary for the speeches honoring our veterans who had died. Years later our son's Cub Scout troop marched in two parades on Memorial Day in a different small town. My Dad who had served in WWII was so proud to see his grandson marching. Will never forget the taps and gun salute when he was laid to rest in the same cemetary where our band marched each year on Memorial Day.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
Since the late 50's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye's Heights (the Luminaria Program).
And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.
To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."
The first tribute is a speech from the greatest American President of our lifetime, Ronald Reagan in 1984 when he honored a Unknown Soldier from the Vietnam War.
President Reagan narrates the next video which is a tribute to Memorial Day from House Republicans.
Video Tribute to the men and women who rest at Arlington with Trace Atkins singing "Arlington"
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941