On Memorial Day, May 30, 2022, we will once again remember all the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who gave their lives in defense of our nation. And we will celebrate all those who serve us now. They do not hesitate to perform their duties. Now it is time for the rest of us to do our duty as we face the future.
This Memorial Day comes at a particularly troubling moment in our history. The Covid threat continues. The U.S. is spending heavily to help Ukraine defend against Russia amid worries that the invasion could spiral into something far worse. Our economy is wracked by inflation, and shortages of such essential goods as baby formula have created emergencies in countless households. Social and political differences divide our people, fueled by an internet awash in lies and hate messages. Guns proliferate, and homegrown violence, whether committed by criminals or radical extremists, threatens us all.
But we know America will endure and flourish. Despite all our differences we are at heart the most creative, entrepreneurial, productive and generous nation on the face of the Earth. We enjoy a Constitution that was designed by the Founding Fathers to handle the stresses and strains of domestic conflicts.
Let us remember with gratitude the hospital and healthcare workers who have given so much to get our nation through the pandemic. We are grateful to the first responders—police, fire, medical and more—who serve and protect us every day. We can never forget the devoted teachers who give so much of themselves to educate our young people. The list of dedicated, hard-working Americans who make this country great goes on and on.
Once again, as we do every Memorial Day, let us remember the more than 2 million men and women who serve in our Armed Forces on both active and reserve duty. Of those, as many as 200,000 are stationed or conduct missions in foreign regions, including Africa, the Middle East and the South China Sea.
And never forget that our nation has paid a steep price for the freedoms we enjoy: The Americans who have died defending our country since the American Revolution total more than 1.3 million.
This holiday was originally known as Decoration Day. It began in 1869 when an organization of Union veterans led by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan established it to decorate the graves of the Civil War dead with flowers.
Gen. Logan chose May 30 as the date because flowers would be in bloom across the country. By the end of the 19th century, state legislatures across nation had agreed on that as the official date.
In 1971 Congress made Memorial Day a national holiday and designated the last Monday in May as the official observance. By then the day commemorated the dead not only of the Civil War, but all U.S. conflicts.
Memorial Day also marks the unofficial start of summer—a time for ballgames, cookouts and other holiday pleasures. But no matter how we mark this special day, let us all stay safe. And let us all keep in our hearts the courageous men and women who sacrifice so much for this nation. As we said last year and say again now, Remember to Remember.
Robert L. Dilenschneider is the Founder and CEO of The Dilenschneider Group, an international communications firm that provides strategic advice and counsel to Fortune 500 companies and leading families and individuals in fields ranging from mergers and acquisitions, to crisis communications, to marketing, government affairs and foreign media.