Bob Dilenschneider
Robert Dilenschneider

It is on Memorial Day that we Americans commemorate all those who have died while serving in the U.S. military. Because it is observed on the last Monday in May, this year Memorial Day will fall on May 29. The brave men and women who gave their lives in defense of our nation did not hesitate to perform their duties. Let us use that day, therefore, to remember and honor their sacrifice.

This Memorial Day comes at a challenging time in our history. Social and political conflicts continue to divide us. Instead of working to overcome the differences, many of our leaders in Washington seem more intent on deepening the divide in partisan rancor. Meanwhile, guns proliferate — there are now more weapons in private hands, some 400 million, than there are people in this country. And mass shootings continue at a rate of about one every week.

But we Americans have faced and overcome domestic conflicts before, and so as long as we maintain our love of Country and determination to move forward, we'll get through the current difficulties too.

As we mark Memorial Day 2023, let us remember not only our fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen, but also the more than 1.4 million men and women now on active duty in our Armed Forces. Of those, as many as 170,000 are stationed or conduct missions in foreign regions, from Africa, to the Middle East, to the South China Sea.

And let us never forget that our nation has paid a steep price for the freedoms we enjoy: The dead in all conflicts since the American Revolution total more than 1.3 million.

The history of Memorial Day is remarkable. It began in 1868 when an official order was sent out by Gen. John Logan designating May 30 as Decoration Day to remember those who had died during the Civil War. He chose that date because flowers would be in bloom across the nation to place on the graves of the fallen. On the first Decoration Day, 20,000 graves at Arlington Cemetery were decorated, and future President James Garfield gave a speech.

By 1890, all Northern states had recognized Decoration Day as a holiday. Southern states, however, chose to honor their dead on separate days. These differences continued until after World War I, when the holiday was changed to honor all Americans who died fighting in any war. In 1971, Congress made Memorial Day a federal holiday and designated the last Monday in May as the official observance.

As we all know, Memorial Day also marks the unofficial start of summer — a time for holiday pleasures like friends and families getting together for a cookout or the first trip of the year to a beach. But no matter how we mark this special event, let us all stay safe. And let us all keep in our hearts the courageous men and women who have sacrificed 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.