Happy Memorial Day 2008! (Updated)

This Memorial Day, as with all others, is a day to reflect on and appreciate the freedoms we’ve been provided by men and women willing to take up arms and defend it. So put aside political differences and say “Thank you” to the people who provided you the freedom to speak your mind on political issues.

To those who have served, are serving, and will serve in the future, thank you for your sacrifice.

My small collection of Presidential statements on Memorial Days of the past:

I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day. I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it. We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.

–Benjamin Harrison

No one has come here today to disagree about the heroism of those whom we honor. But the only way we can really honor their memory is to resolve to live and serve today and tomorrow as best we can and to make America the best that she can be. Surely that is what we owe to all those whose names are etched in this beautiful memorial.

As we all resolve to keep the finest military in the world, let us remember some of the lessons that all agree on. If the day should come when our service men and women must again go into combat, let us all resolve they will go with the training, the equipment, the support necessary to win, and, most important of all, with a clear mission to win.

Let us do what is necessary to regain control over our destiny as a people here at home, to strengthen our economy and to develop the capacities of all of our people, to rebuild our communities and our families where children are raised and character is developed. Let us keep the American dream alive.

–Bill Clinton

Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery with its row on row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom…. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, The Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam. Under one such marker lies a young man — Martin Treptow — who left his job in a small-town barbershop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division.

There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire. We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, ‘My Pledge,’ he had written these words: ‘America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone’.”

–Ronald Reagan

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.

–John F. Kennedy

Honoring veterans of the past and present isn’t partisan, it’s just the right thing to do. I’ll add statements from Clinton, McCain, and Obama later today when they deliver inevitable Memorial Day speeches.

Have anymore quotes or things to add? Do so below, and please be respectful to the men and women of our armed forces.


Statements from the 2008 candidates are below. I couldn’t find one from Ron Paul or Ralph Nader.

Barack Obama:

On this Memorial Day, our nation honors the generations of patriots who were willing to give their lives to defend this country. While we may come from different places, cherish different traditions, and have different political beliefs, all Americans hold in reverence those who’ve given this country the full measure of their devotion. They are a shining example of what’s best about America.

Today is also a reminder of our obligation as Americans to serve our fallen heroes as well as they served us; as well as the wounded warriors I’ve had the honor of meeting at Walter Reed have served us; as well as the troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world are serving us. That means giving the same priority to building a 21st century VA as to building a 21st century military. It means having zero tolerance for veterans sleeping on our streets. It means bringing home our POWs and MIAs. And it means treating the graves of veterans like the hallowed ground it is and banning protests near funerals.

So on this day, of all days, let’s memorialize our fallen heroes by honoring all who wear our country’s uniform; and by completing their work to make America more secure and our world more free.

Hillary Clinton:

Memorial Day is a solemn day for every American; a day to express our profound gratitude to the men and women who have given their lives in military service. A day to join in our thoughts and prayers with the families mourning loved ones. A day to cherish the freedoms and opportunities that so many have served, sacrificed, and died to defend.

On this Memorial Day, I’m reminded of the words of a poet and a veteran named Archibald MacLeish. He served in World War I and witnessed incredible service and sacrifice. Before the close of World War II, to commemorate those who had died, he wrote of the responsibility of all of us who survive them.

In his poem entitled “The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak,” he reminds us that those we have lost: “have a silence that speaks for them at night…They say: We have done what we could but until it is finished it is not done…They say: our deaths are not ours; they are yours; they will mean what you make them…They say: we leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.”

How do we give these lives their meaning? I believe we must honor our service members by doing our best to serve the men and women who have served us. And I believe we must honor the lives we’ve lost by honoring the values for which they fought. That is our duty. And on this Memorial Day, let us recommit ourselves to fulfilling this sacred responsibility every single day.


Clinton’s was long, you can read the rest here.

John McCain put out a new web ad: