Perhaps the greatest value of a life is to spend it for something that lives after it. On Memorial Day, we honor and remember more than a million Veterans who lost their lives on our behalf to defend our Nation. We also thank their families who supported them and helped make it possible to have the freedoms we enjoy today.

Just a few years after the Civil War ended, Decoration Day was established (originally celebrated on May 30th) with the purpose of decorating the graves with flowers of those who died in war. In 1966, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday. In 1868, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), admonished: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

In December 2000, “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” Public Law (P.L.) 106-579, was signed into law, to ensure the sacrifices of America’s fallen heroes are never forgotten. As a result of this law, all Americans are encouraged to give something back to our country. Additionally, we are encouraged to pause wherever we are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the Nation. We hope you will join us as we remember and honor our Veterans.

Thank you for sharing in our pursuit to accomplish the mission given us by President Abraham Lincoln “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan”. Today, due to medical advances, more of our Veterans return home, but require great care. Thanks to your support and partnership, we are able to serve the needs of more of these valiant men and women.

The words of the Athenian leader Pericles from over 24 centuries ago are applicable in honoring our Fallen: “Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.” As we notice the flowers blooming around us this season, may we be reminded of the sacrifice our Veterans made to secure a better life for each of us.

Source: U.S. Department of Veterans affairs, Non-VA Community Provider Newsletter, 05/15/2014