On the last Monday in May, Americans celebrate Memorial Day. It is a day to remember those men and women in military service who perished defending their country and its causes, and to honor their sacrifice.
“They lie here in glory and honor in quiet rows in Arlington, in cemeteries in Europe, … in graves across our country, in towns large and small — America’s beloved daughters and sons who dared all, risked all, and gave all to preserve and defend an idea unlike any other in human history: the idea of the United States of America,” said President Joe Biden. “And today, as a nation, we undertake a sacred ritual: to reflect and to remember.”
Indeed, Memorial Day represents a debt owed by the living to those Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure their country’s freedom. Some died in battle, some of disease. Others were lost in foreign prisons and never returned. Most died young, defending their nation’s ideals and liberties. And thousands upon thousands died fighting for the freedom of others as well: in North Africa, Europe, the Pacific, Asia, and the Middle East.
“Freedom has never been free. Democracy has always required champions,” said President Biden. “Every generation has to defeat democracy’s mortal foes. And into every generation, heroes are born, willing to shed their blood for that which they and we hold dear.
“Today we remember, and we reaffirm: Freedom is worth the sacrifice. Democracy is not perfect; it’s never been perfect. But it’s worth fighting for; if necessary, worth dying for,” he said.
“Our democracy is our greatest gift as a nation, made holy by those we’ve lost along the way. Our democracy is how we undertake the constant work of perfecting the union — and we have not perfected it, but we’ve never stopped trying; of opening the doors wider of opportunity and prosperity and justice for people everywhere.
“This is the mission of our time,” said President Biden. “Our memorial to them must not be just a day when we pause and pray, it must be a daily commitment to act, to come together, to be worthy of the price that was paid.”