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Memorial Day: Remembering, Freedom Isn't Free

JINSA Report #: 

May 28, 2012

American Exceptionalism began when 56 brave patriots signed the Declaration of Independence, and has continued with the many thousands of Americans who paid the ultimate price to preserve the freedoms that make ours the greatest nation in the world. On Memorial Day, we remember and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our Nation.

In recent years, Americans have developed a renewed sense of appreciation for members of our Armed Forces. Spontaneous displays of affection and heartfelt thanks are witnessed at airports and around the country that are indicative of a renewed spirit of gratitude and respect toward our troops. This holiday is the time for us to reconnect with our country's history and our national values by honoring those who selflessly gave their lives for those cherished ideals.

To the generations of American warriors who drew their last breaths at Khe Sanh, the Chosin Reservoir, Normandy, and on hundreds of other battlefields, we have added the patriots of this century's battles in Iraq, Afghanistan, The Philippines and other terrorist-infested regions. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have died to prevent tyranny from spreading to America's shores. No one should ever forget that right now brave Americans are far from home serving our country, sacrificing and in some cases dying to preserve our freedoms and way of life.

Since Congress turned Memorial Day into a three-day weekend with the National Holiday Act of 1971, citizens have been distracted from the true spirit and meaning of the day.

To help Americans return to its true meaning, every year since 1989, Senator Daniel Inouye, a highly decorated soldier himself, has submitted to Congress a bill calling for the restoration of May 30th as the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day.

As Senator Inouye said upon its introduction: "[This bill] would help restore the recognition our veterans deserve for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our nation." As of this year, Congress has not - and has never - taken further action on the bill.

In the year 2000, Congress did pass a "National Moment of Remembrance Act," establishing that at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day all Americans would voluntarily and informally pray for permanent peace. The Act intended to reclaim Memorial Day as a sacred and noble event.

We hope that all Americans will take this moment to remember.

On this Memorial Day, we remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, and we offer gratitude to the families and friends of the fallen. We appeal to our fellow Americans to always remember the values our fallen heroes stood for, to respect our men and women in uniform, and to honor service to the nation above self.

When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.*

* Excerpt from "Freedom Is Not Free" by Kelly Strong.

Jewish Institute for National Security of America
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Washington, D.C. 20005

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