On Monday our nation once again pauses to remember those who have given their lives to defend our freedom. In addition to the National Ceremony to be held at Arlington on Monday, the 30th, over 44 local observances will take place at national cemeteries across our land (2016 Memorial Day Ceremonies). These, of course, in addition to hundreds of other observances in towns and cities where men and women will pause to give thanks in recognition of the sacrifice of fallen heroes.
Presidents have been issuing proclamations on Memorial Day since 1891 when President Harrison gave a speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. He said, "We honor those who died in the service of their country" and joyfully and thankfully commemorate "what they did. We mourn for them as comrades who have departed," but "the glory of their achievement" has given them imperishable honor."
In 1987, as the Cold War neared its end, Ronald Reagan asserted that "any American who has ever listened to a bugler sound Taps" whether it was "halfway around the world" or on "a lonely tarmac stateside" knows "why we set aside a special day each year to honor those who have died for our country and to pray for permanent peace."
Even as we long for a permanent peace we continue to have those who give their lives in service to our nation. Icasualties.org indicates 14 coalition service members perished in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2015 and 2016 and an additional 32 in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. 72 members of the Active Component of the US armed services took their lives by suicide in the third quarter of 2015 and 70 did the same from the Reserve Component (text).
On Monday, we encourage all to participate, as they are able, in a service to honor the fallen. In December 2000 "The National Moment of Remembrance Act" went into effect. Aware Memorial Day was becoming largely a three-day weekend to welcome summer and the opening of swimming pools, our Congress and President passed this legislation to encourage all Americans to pause at 3:00 PM local time for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.
May God grant peace to the souls of those who have served us with such sacrifice.
[Editor's Comment: I am pleased and honored to know Lyman Smith. I am a Life Member of the Military Chaplains Association. It was Captain Gary Pollitt, Chaplain United States Navy Retired, a former executive director of the MCA who encouraged me to become a member. When I served on the Executive Committee of the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces and Chairman of the Endorsers Conference for Veterans Affairs Chaplains that Lyman was the editor of the newsletter that published the news of both endorsers conferences. I was given the opportunity to write articles for that publication. Lyman put it all together for us. He does excellent work. My life has been enriched by knowing and working with such outstanding men of faith who has served our country in the Armed Forces of the United States of America.]