Remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Ben Mota
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs

Today, Grissom, along with all Americans, remembers those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom's sake.

On this Memorial Day, all Americans are encouraged to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

“We all enjoy cookouts and spending time with family over the Memorial Day holiday, but it’s important to remember the sacrifices our service members made and continue to make protecting our freedom,” said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. “On this day remember that as we enjoy our long weekend service members are deployed around the world protecting our liberties to ensure we can do so in peace.”

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service to their country. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War Soldiers, by proclamation of Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former Sailors and Soldiers.

During the first national celebration, Gen. James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there. By the late 1800s, many more cities and communities had begun to observe Memorial Day.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. Many state legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.

It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed in December 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 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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